Cael M.'s Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Dr. Strangelove is what is often considered the Godfather of satires and black comedies, and although this isn't Kubrick's masterpiece in my opinion, it's hard to deny how much fun I had with this one. What's probably the riskiest, boldest thing about this film is the fact that Kubrick actually released this during the Cold War. Considering this film is a black war comedy satirizing our decisions during the war, and it was a statement on what was seen at the time as a deadly threat, it must have been the subject of controversy at the time, but it must've also shined light on how ironic and ridiculous the war really was. Dr. Strangelove is offbeat and weird in one of the best ways possible, although lots of the humor is subtle and you may have to "read between the lines" in order to really understand the significance of the humor and find it to be a thought-provoking film. That being said, Dr. Strangelove is still absurd and ridiculous enough to be a crazily hilarious dark humor on its own. I must admit that I still can't get myself to love this film, and although I can't get myself to call it "overrated" either, I feel like some of the humor didn't quite work for me and went over my head. Even then, Dr. Strangelove still deserves its reputation as a classic, intelligent war film.

Dr. Strangelove concerns the utterly bonkers General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) who decides to issue his planes on "Plan R", instructing the aircrafts to commence a nuclear war on the Soviet Union. While the planes are heading towards the Soviet Union, the ineffective yet well-intentioned president (Peter Sellers) has a discussion with his other men as well as a Russian ambassador (Peter Bull) in the Pentagon's War Room, and they learn that a "doomsday device" in the Soviet Union will detonate should any nuclear attack strike the country. What's interesting was the fact that the story was actually intended to be a serious Cold War thriller based off of the novel known as "Red Alert", but Kubrick felt like the idea would work better as a flat-out black comedy. What's even more interesting is the fact that audiences laughed at Kubrick's exposing of their own fear, a nuclear threat, despite the fact that the scenario of a nuclear strike could happen any second during the time. Other roles include General Buck (George C. Scott), Major T.J Kong (Slim Pickens), and Colonel "Bat" Guano (Keenan Wynn) as well as two other roles by Peter Sellers, including Lionel Mandrake, a British officer, and (of course), the ex-Nazi Dr. Strangelove.

Yes, you heard that right- Peter Sellers plays a total of three roles in this movie, and all of them are top-notch. What I found to be a little disappointing was the fact that Dr. Strangelove himself only had a screen time of about ten minutes, yet he sticks in memory well because of his silly accent and slapstick. I feel like most of the laughs really come from the more deadpan scenes. Apart from his role of Dr. Strangelove, he also plays the president, and what I found to be quite fascinating was the fact that at times, both the president and Strangelove were having a conversation with each other in the War Room. However, since there can't be two Peter Sellers, the filmmakers used a quite clever way in order to make the two characters played by one actor have a discussion. The roles played by Peter are very diverse and comparing the three, it's near-impossible to know that they're all played by the same person at first glance. My favorite role by him, other than Dr. Strangelove, was the bumbling role of officer Lionel Mandrake, and his conversations with Sterling Hayden's General Jack D. Ripper were hysterical. Practically every role has their moments of great.

One problem I had with the movie was the fact that flight sequences involving Major T.J. Kong and the planes heading towards the Soviet Union played in between the War Room sequences, and I was a little annoyed by the unnecessary flight details. I was a little frustrated at the start because I really didn't find myself loving the experience until the War Room was introduced. Some of the jokes really didn't work for me and went over my head, and although I still laughed quite a bit throughout the movie, many people may not see the funny side of nuclear annihilation. These few, but glaring flaws were clearly made up by the enduring and amazingly written script, with some of the best lines I've heard from a war movie. A few lines that come to mind are "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room" and "Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!". The writing is endlessly quotable and not only is it funny, but it's actually quite thought provoking. The script exposes the weaknesses of the safeguards of a nuclear war, and considering it was released only a year before the Cuban Missile Crisis, the movie must've been very controversial, building up not only lots of fear but odd laughter for audiences.

Dr. Strangelove is an unbelievably brave take on the Cold War that is oddly stupidly and smartly humorous at the same time, using silly slapstick in order to surprisingly bring up extremely good points about the Cold War. It's a certainly dark film, and not all the humor will appeal to every audience, but if you can appreciate and play along with it you're more than likely going to have fun with this movie. As I said, even though I can't say this movie is "overrated", I can't quite get myself to love it at the same level as everyone else, but it's certainly an enduring war film. Who knew that Kubrick could tackle dark humor so well? Not only is this film hysterical and absurd, but it's also well-researched, thought-provoking, and very smart when it comes to raising a devastating question. The ending is also incredibly pessimistic and ironic. Dr. Strangelove as a whole is not one of the best Kubrick films, but it's still purely genius and although it has its fair share of flaws, the tightly-written, darkly-funny script and the fantastic acting more than make up for them. Dr. Strangelove has clearly stood the test of time, and it's still amusing even by today's standards.

Le Doulos
Le Doulos(1962)

Le Doulos is my second Jean-Pierre Melville film after Le Samourai, and although it's nowhere near the same level of quality as Le Samourai (which is among my favorite films of all time), I'm still discovering the rest of his career and the way things are looking, I can tell that his career is certainly something special. "Le doulos" has a double meaning, referring to both a kind of hat and a police informant, and the film follows both meanings through the intricate plot. What I can tell based on a first viewing of this film is that the plot was quite overwhelming, and it's certainly a complex film that I found somewhat hard to follow at times, but I never found myself looking way. If you're a fan of film noir, this film is an essential viewing, and there's no doubt that his trademark style is utilized, but if you're planning on watching this film, just know that it requires full attention if you really want to get down every plot point. Even missing a few plot points may frustrate you because the plot never slows down when it comes to twists and turns. I went into this film with very high expectations and I wasn't disappointed, but I didn't quite catch everything, so I may have to re-visit this film later. For now, however, Le Doulos is still one entertaining and fascinating noir with depth uncommonly found in the rest of the genre.

Le Doulos opens up by introducing us to a criminal known as Maurice Faugel (Serge Reggiani) who had just been released from prison when he decides to kill his friend Gilbert Varnone (Rene Lefevre), stealing his jewels of a presumably recent heist, and then proceeds to commit a robbery and tells his friend Silien (Jean-Paul Belmondo) about his plans. Silien is rumored to be a police informant, and Maurice may have possibly risked his life and landed himself in jail again by telling him his plans. I'll stop right there because it's never fun to have a plot spoiled for you, especially when it's backed up by intricate plot twists and exploration of deep themes including loyalty and friendship. One of the main highlights of this film is the opening, and right from the opening credits and the opening scene afterwards that sets up the plot, I knew I was in for a special ride. The opening credits shows Maurice walking with his trench coat and his fedora in the dark, shady streets and tunnels, with perfectly matching jazz music. It's most likely some sort of homage to American noirs considering Jean-Pierre Melville was a lover of American culture and cinema, even going as far as changing his last name to his role model's last name, Herman Melville.

What makes directors like Jean-Pierre Melville when it comes to style so special is his attention to detail and his use of lighting and music, with simple scenes like a man walking through the rough streets in the shadows being very engaging and exciting. He further shows his attention to detail with the opening scene, depicting the murder of Gilbert by Maurice. Those are the kinds of scenes where even the smallest, least important details and sounds can build suspense and tension, and it truly is a talent for a director to achieve something like that. The cinematography and camera work is truly stunning stuff, and those alone make the film worth watching. There's one brutal scene a few minutes into the movie, and by today's standards, the scene might not quite have the same impact, but I oddly still found it disturbing and quite hard to watch. The scene shows Silien tying a woman, Therese (Monique Hennessy), often slapping and hitting her brutally, but I found it to be a fitting scene for such a cynical noir. What makes these scenes larger than life is not only the insanely great atmosphere built up by Melville, but the characters also contribute a whole lot. Serge Reggiani and Jean-Paul Belmondo are brilliant here precisely because they fit and embody their role perfectly, nailing down the dark, mysterious personality that keeps you guessing for the whole time. Unfortunately, Reggiani's performance does get overshadowed by Belmondo at times, but that's not to say that he wasn't great. Practically everyone here delivers something memorable, and the performances are the best of their kind here.

My biggest problem is the plot, which is very complicated, and as I said is quite overwhelming for a first viewing. One of the main reasons I was a little perplexed by the plot was the fact that I didn't quite expect anything like it, but one of the main reasons I admired the plot was the fact that it constantly had you thinking. There are barely moments where you aren't guessing what happens next, given the constant paranoia of deception and manipulation, often leading to wrong assumptions. There are plenty of backstabbings of characters and framing for crimes that characters never committed, as well as the exploration of fascinating themes of loyalty and betrayal. There is also neither an exact hero nor villain, leaving the audience to grasp for a certain character or assume both Silien and Maurice as anti-heroes. Dialogue is the certainly the most important part of this plot, and even missing a few lines or actions could lead to confusion and frustration. It's important to not have any real distractions during the film or you may have an unpleasant experience. I was honestly surprised by how complex and deep Melville decided to make his characters, while still paying strong attention to the gritty, cynical, and dark atmosphere, and both mesh and pay off well. Many elements are ambiguous, and the explosive ending is made all the better by the fact that only at the end do characters' motivations become more clear and the viewer must re-evaluate prior scenes, and as a result you can appreciate the film more.

Le Doulos is one of those films that get better by the viewing, and I certainly have to revisit this film at one point or another because I can't say I fully understood everything. However, I want to fully understand everything because this was such a rewarding experience, and I can re-watch it now knowing how everything is going to play out, enabling myself to evaluate the film better. It certainly is a complex film, but knowing that without knowing much of the plot going in makes for a better experience. It's an essential, great noir that should be seen by those that have no trouble following a complex plot that keeps you guessing, but in the best way possible. Even if you don't find yourself liking the experience, it's very hard not to like Melville's utilization of cinematography in order to build an atmosphere, and with both Le Samourai and this (considering Le Doulos is only my second film by him), it's clear that style is certainly an important aspect of his. However, for now, Le Doulos is still a one-of-a-kind, gritty, and complex noir that can't be missed, especially by those who love equal attention to both style and substance.

Black Rock
Black Rock(2013)

Black Rock, along with Killing Season, are two films that I've recently seen that remind me of John Boorman's Deliverance from 1972 when it comes to replicating the mood and the tone set up through the unsettling and hostile yet beautiful and calming territory of nature. Black Rock, having a tight, cost-effective budget as opposed to Deliverance, manages to replicate the unnerving territory successfully, being a technically well-made, beautifully shot film, even when it often screams "indie" and "exploitation". Neither of those come off as bad things, and there's certainly nothing wrong with being either of them. However, where Black Rock fails, apart from the often great acting, is almost every aspect, and I feel like Black Rock didn't know how to properly extend it's original and refreshing idea that sounds excellent on paper to a full length film. I can clearly tell that everyone involved with this movie had a great idea in mind and wanted to make a refreshing, tense thriller with such a tight budget, but as time went on, I felt like they didn't know how to continue the story yet keep us engaged, so they couldn't do anything except rely on typical, recycled elements commonly found in horror films. That's a huge disappointment, and although it's a fairly watchable film, it honestly could've been so much more.

Black Rock is about a well-intentioned woman named Sarah (Kate Bosworth) who invites her two childhood friends, Lou (Lake Bell) and Abby (Katie Aselton), on a trip to a remote island, with the intentions of reuniting their once strong friendship after years of not speaking with each other. After bonding, and sometimes even arguing with each other on the island, the three women come across three other men, Henry (Will Bouvier), Derek (Jay Paulson), and Alex (Anslem Richardson), who happen to be hunters and veteran soldiers that were dishonorably discharged from their service. Initially, they're peaceful with each other and they grow a stronger relationship, but after Abby begins flirting with Henry and they take a brief walk with each other in the woods, they begin kissing. Henry progressively becomes more and more aggressive and Abby tries to desperately escape but she can't, so she kills Henry with a stone, destroying the building relationship between the two groups and provoking a war. What follows after this wrong, albeit unintentional move, is a deadly fight for survival. Unfortunately, I knew most of the directions that the plot would take since I watched the trailer prior to watching the movie, and I may have liked the movie more if I hadn't. However, this isn't the movie's fault as much as it's the marketing's fault, so this problem technically can't be considered much of a legitimate flaw. Overall, this is still practically just a different version of a familiar theme, and it's not much that we haven't seen before.

I must say that the acting is terrific, even if the characters are sometimes obnoxious. Some of the reactions by the characters were odd, some decisions ranged from questionable to downright stupid, and some of the arguments got on my nerves, although these are all common aspects found in typical horror thrillers when it comes to acting. Character logic is often thrown out the window, and some of the choices were outrageously frustrating. I couldn't actually tell as if the ideas regarding the above were intentional or unintentional, but either way, I didn't find myself liking it. When the characters don't follow the above, they're very impressive, showcasing their talent with their natural, realistic acting. Everything feels slightly authentic when it comes to performances, although I can't say that for anything else in the movie. These actors have tons of potential, and I haven't seen or heard of them before watching this movie, but I may have to look into their career because they could result in some very impressive performances. One of the actors, Kate Aselton (who plays Abby), actually directed the film, and she clearly showed bursts of great direction and acting every now and then. I can't say the same for the script and the dialogue between the characters, and the acting blends perfectly with the natural, everyday conversations in the first half, but after a while, writer Mark Duplass (who is actually the wife of the director, Kate Aselton) seemed to have given up and lazily wrote dialogue similar to a generic, typical horror film.

Even if there were some glaring problems when it came to the lack of intelligence (albeit great acting) by these characters and the sometimes mediocre dialogue, a thriller's biggest goal is to thrill the audience and add lots of tension between the conflicts. Initially, once the war for survival began, I was on the edge of my seat and I felt a lot of tension and worry for the three leads. However, after a few minutes, I began to realize how many times I felt that I've seen this before, and I began to lose hope for the film. As I said, it literally just becomes a simple horror movie, and it became stale and ultimately boring. It's a watchable film, and thankfully it's closer to the shorter side at about eighty minutes, but that doesn't mean it wasn't often tedious. Everything just felt too familiar, and it's a major disappointment considering the potential. The film is not devoid of good when it comes to the actual conflict, because it's still really nice to look at, even for the whole film. The cinematography and camera work is gorgeous stuff, with some insanely beautiful scenery as they're on this remote island. There are tons of vibrant, colorful, and stunning backdrops, and when it comes to the actual look, it's never dull. There's also lots of blood, and most of it looks cheap, dating back to those old exploitation flicks from the '70s. It never took me out of the film, but I thought I'd just point that out. The music is also great stuff here, often switching from beautiful to eerie, and it's also a highlight.

There's one line in the film that perfectly sums up Black Rock as a whole. At one point, Sarah says, "This doesn't feel right", and I couldn't agree more. Nothing really did feel right, and I found myself quite frustrated with the experience although it was watchable. There's also a mediocre climax and an ambiguous ending that I suppose is a fitting ending, but I wasn't satisfied nor impressed by it. Black Rock could've been so much more, but it decided to take the easy route out and devolve itself into a generic horror thriller. I watched this film anyways despite hearing about bad reviews because I thought it would be interesting and entertaining, and the first half certainly delivered, but the second half completely crumbled in front of my eyes. If you still want to watch Black Rock at this point, then just go for it, but don't say you weren't warned. Black Rock is an ambitious thriller that certainly sounded excellent on paper, but the execution was a misfire and it ended up being an unsatisfying experience.

Natural Born Killers

I think it goes without saying that Natural Born Killers is among the most insane and psychotic experiences I've ever had with a movie. There's no denying that this is one of the most over-the-top movies ever made, and although it's not to everyone's tastes because of the pure insanity and brutality offered by the film, if you can handle it, you'll be rewarded with a surreal experience that's raw and unforgettable. What's even better about the experience is that it's not devoid of meaning, and it's not just controversial and brutal for the sake of being controversial and brutal, but it's actually a very thoughtful satire and social commentary on the publicity of criminals, as well as the media and criminals' lifestyle in general. Natural Born Killers is considered one of the most controversial films of all time, being subject to about twelve different copycat crimes, but honestly, I feel that Natural Born Killers is often dismissed as a repulsive, vile film that corrupts minds for that reason rather than a film that carefully analyzes the process of violent serial killers turning into heroes through the mass media. Oliver Stone clearly achieved what he wanted to here, and this film will certainly shock and unsettle many, but that's precisely the point. Natural Born Killers deserves far more recognition than the controversial reputation that it currently has, and it's certainly one of the most bold satires ever created.

Natural Born Killers follows the violent couple of Mickey and Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis and Woody Harrelson) as they commit several gory crimes and as a result are irresponsibly publicized and glorified by the media's interest in the killers. The couple are two victims of violent childhoods and therefore share the common interest of violence, as well as the interest and desire of each other, becoming lovers and mass murderers. A particular officer named Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore) is willing to do anything he can in order to capture and put down these mass murderers, and a news reporter named Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.) follows the couple and publicizes their actions on TV. Later in the film, we're also introduced to a prison warden named Dwight McClusky (Tommy Lee Jones). The film opens up with one of most shocking opening scenes I've ever seen to date, where Mickey and Mallory Knox stop at a roadside diner, where Mallory is briefly sexually harassed and the couple then proceeds to kill everyone there except one. If you're not a fan of the opening scene, then you're probably not going to enjoy the rest of the film either, because Natural Born Killers mostly revolves around those kind of actions with buckets of blood and brutality. There's plenty of visceral editing to accompany gory, gut-wrenching murders that often changes from the weirdest angles to black and white shots, and sometimes even brief animation.

Quentin Tarantino originally had involvement with the script for the movie, and although I love him as both a director and a writer, I feel like his writing wouldn't of fit for this kind of movie. He often uses natural, everyday dialogue yet uses it in an odd way to make it engaging, but I've read some of his original script and I compared it to the current one, and I must admit that the current one is far more effective. His script was heavily edited by Oliver Stone and a few others, and for that reason, Tarantino often chooses not to talk about his involvement with the movie. His script was more funny than terrifying, and since this movie is designed to shock, unsettle, and prove a point about society, I feel like it wasn't fit for this kind of movie. Even then, I could still notice his involvement in some form throughout the movie, mostly the overall style, especially when it came to the storytelling and the style of filming. Stone's finished product is a more hallucinogenic ride through insanity than an ultra-violent but funny ride through insanity, though it would be interesting to see how Tarantino would've taken the project into his hands. The current experience, as I said, has very odd editing and some of the weirdest storytelling I've ever really seen, often switching from flashbacks of 1970s sitcoms, slow-motion sequences, and different contrasts of color.

This is the sort of film that takes courage to really finish, and I must admit that although it was a hard film to sit through, it was definitely a rewarding ride. I watched the Director's Cut, which is Oliver Stone's intended version of the film, with about four total minutes of extended bloodbaths, gory sequences, and dialogue. I don't know the overall differences of the R-rated version and the NC-17 rated version, but either way, it's still a very hard film to get through. Despite being filled to the brim with nasty sequences whether its sexual or physical violence, none of it is really gratuitous, although some may get a headache by the constant switch of storytelling techniques throughout the film. I must point out that I'm not a fan of excessive, repulsive violence by any means, especially when it's gratuitous, but here, I couldn't help but realize and think about Oliver Stone's true intentions with the film. It's actually thought-provoking material, pondering the media's process of glorifying violent killers. For the first half of the movie, Stone seems to be focusing on the killers' causes for the violence rather than the actual violence, but for the second half, Stone seems to be focusing on people like Wayne Gale's intentions to exploit these killers purely for money and fame, and Wayne only finds interest and entertainment out of the couple. All he cares about is making a profit off of them. Jack Scagnetti is a prime example of society's employment of immoral, vile people to defend and protect us, and we have certain people in power in society that shouldn't be in power at all. At one point, Dwight McClusky calls the couple everything wrong with society, but then later proceeds to discuss how brutally he's going to kill them. Both Jack and Dwight represent anything but legitimate law enforcement in our nation.

If there's one thing that you can't leave out of a Natural Born Killers review, it's the absolutely insane performances. What's crazy to think about is the fact that are literally five scene-stealing performances in this film, whether it's Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Robert Downey Jr., and Tommy Lee Jones. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as Mickey and Mallory Knox have same bizarrely great, very weird chemistry here, and even some oddly touching moments as well through their relationship. I must say that Woody steals the show over Juliette as a calm but often darkly humorous serial killer, but that's not to say Juliette isn't far behind, with her utterly wild and surreal performance. Tom Sizemore manages to be the most vile and irredeemable out of the five, and he's also the most terrifying out of the group, being a sadistic misogynist that's a murderer in his own right. Tommy Lee Jones as the warden is a foulmouthed, unappealing hypocrite that often steals the show, especially with his frustrated fits. Robert Downey Jr., however, is the real star of the show here. I have no idea what kind of drug he was on, but seriously, not only he was on some sort of drug, but the filmmakers and the editors were on them too, and maybe even the audience. Robert Downey Jr. is one of the biggest narcissistic, yet bizarrely entertaining, degenerates I've seen on screen, and he also has a weird, excellent Australian accent to go along with his obnoxious attitude. It's odd to think he transitioned from an utterly insane role like this to a more cooler, laid back role like Tony Stark in the Iron Man movies. I can't stress how phenomenal the acting is here, and it's certainly the best part of this movie. If there was one thing I didn't like about the film was the fact that at times, the psychotic nature of the film did go overboard and it sort of lost its meaning, but only for brief periods. However, if that over-the-top violence that went overboard did get removed, the film may or may not quite have the same impact, so I'm not so sure if that can be considered a legitimate complaint or not.

Natural Born Killers is often dismissed as yet another controversial film that's pointlessly and gratuitously violent, and it's fine if the style or amount of violence isn't to your taste, but to those dismissing this film as mindless and pointless should rethink over that. This film has a bold statement to say about our society and it definitely says it with an exaggerated, psychotic, and surreal style, and I can't say that it's a perfect masterpiece because at times I honestly felt like the violence went overboard (maybe that's only for the Director's Cut), but it was too brilliant of an experience to give it any less praise. This must've also been one of the most difficult films to ever make, because there literally isn't more than fifteen seconds where some weird editing style, whether its a black and white frame or some very odd angle, kicks in, even in (somewhat) normal conversations. I'm going to have to re-watch this film at one point or another and having already experienced the film, the next time I watch it, I know what's to come and I can evaluate the actual meaning of the film better. As I said, not everyone will get the same experience that I had, as I've heard many complaining that it gave them a headache and it was literally impossible to watch, and I can understand that. As for me, however, Natural Born Killers clicked in every great way possible for me. Natural Born Killers is one of the most utterly insane experiences that I've ever had, and surprisingly, there's an incredible meaning behind all that insanity, and I won't be forgetting this experience any time soon.

Miller's Crossing

Miller's Crossing is, as of now, my least favorite Coen brothers film, yet that's not saying much because they're among my favorite filmmakers of all time. There's definitely a lot to admire here, and I could easily tell as to why someone would adore this film. It has all the typical elements of a classic Coen brothers film, including the unpredictable twists, the sheer style, the quirky characters and dialogue, and the absurd morbid, dark humor. Yet for some odd reason that I can't quite exactly pin down, Miller's Crossing failed to resonate me, and although it certainly had its moments of amazement, it was thematically weak. You would think that if the gangster genre, which is one of those ultra-cool, stylish, and complex genres, and a Coen brothers film, which are all different but are all so unique in the best way possible, combined, the results would be groundbreaking. Evidently, many other people that have watched this film love it, many even claiming it's one of their best, and as I said, I could definitely see why. However, I'm in the clear minority here, and I wanted to love this movie considering how refreshing it often is to see a Coen brothers film, but it didn't quite work for me. This is one of those films that I'll have to re-watch at one point in order to fully enjoy the experience.

Miller's Crossing has a plot similar to Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, where the protagonist, in this case Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) is conflicted between two rival gangs, and he must play off of both sides. Miller's Crossing takes place during the 1930s, and tells the tale about a conflict between Irish boss Leo (Albert Finney) and Italian boss Johnny Caspar (Jon Polito). Leo's right-hand man, Tom Reagan, has the same love interest as Leo, Verna Bernbaum (Marcia Harden). However, things get worse when Tom refuses to get rid of Bernie, who's a bookie (and Verna's brother) that Johnny has intentions to kill, and instead attempts to protect him. It's hard to explain the plot from there, because there are tons of unpredictable twists and double-crossings due to the fact that Tom is stuck between these two rival gangs. It's very ponderous and convoluted for such a simple story, and the plot was used far more effectively in Leone's A Fistful of Dollars and Kurosawa's Yojimbo. I must admit that from the very opening of the movie, I knew that this wouldn't quite be up to par with other Coen brothers classics, mainly due to the fact that everything felt and looked so drab and bland. I don't mean that by the style, because I've heard lots of people saying the style was used to great effect, even many saying that this is a style over substance film. It's certainly not the stylish production's fault, it's the characters' fault.

Some of the characters here were unfortunately less than compelling here, especially the protagonist. I felt like the protagonist was very boring and monotone, and it felt like he wasn't attached to anything- whether it was the love interest, the mob bosses, the money, or anything in general. He felt like an emotionless robot, and I honestly can't tell if he was acted well or not for that reason. In other adaptations of Yojimbo (and Yojimbo itself), the protagonist was compelling and exciting, such as the Man With No Name. He has a stoic personality, and he's mostly a man of few words, but whenever he talks, it's easy to tell that something amazing's about to happen. For Tom Reagan, however, I could barely hear (or care) about what he was saying. I wasn't too big of a fan about Tom's love interest, Verna, either. The two practically felt emotionless and drab, and that was a big shame (especially for Tom) because these are the people that you're supposed to be rooting for. A few of the other characters, including Johnny, Eddie Dane (J.E. Freeman; Johnny's assistant), and Bernie were just as quirky and exciting as you'd expect from a Coen brothers film. There's plenty of dark humor, but I felt like this film didn't know if it wanted to be a riveting drama about the gangster era and morals, or if it wanted to be a darkly humorous gangster drama. The ending was apparently supposed to be really meaningful, supposedly symbolizing the change of moods and lifestyle of characters, but honestly, I felt no attachment to these characters to begin with, so in the end, I really didn't care about what was going to happen to them.

Don't get me wrong, however, because like all Coen brothers films, Miller's Crossing has moments of brilliance. There are darkly hilarious moments that were seriously hilarious, and I couldn't stop laughing watching them, or even thinking about them. There's one moment in particular involving Leo, a few hitmen, a mansion, and tommy guns, and I'd rather not spoil it, but it was brilliantly, morbidly hilarious. There's also another scene later in the movie involving Eddie Dane and Johnny Caspar, and that was macabre but hilarious (although I'm not sure if I was supposed to be laughing at that scene). The stylish production is great to look at and feel here, whether it's the cinematography, the brilliant soundtrack by the Coen brothers' frequent collaborator in music, Carter Burwell, or if its the portrayal of the gangster era. There's one location with a forest that looks breathtaking (and the scenes used along with the location are great as well), the music is beautiful, and the whole film is incredibly stylish. There are shots where a fedora is floating and sailing through the forest, and the suits, the guns, the set designs, and everything when it comes to the overall look of the film are very well-made. There are even cameos by Steve Buscemi, Sam Raimi, and Frances McDormand in very minor roles, and the signature style of the Coen brothers is obviously here, with cleverly written dialogue and great performances (when they needed to be, anyways), but I honestly couldn't get invested in the conflicts of the characters.

This is one of those films that I'll definitely have to re-watch at one point or another if I really want to get the full experience offered by this film. However, it honestly just felt overly-convoluted and drab for a plot like this, and I'm not going to call it overrated by any means, and I still admire this movie purely because effort was obviously put into getting down the feeling of the era. I honestly wish I liked this movie, because as I said, it has all the elements to be a groundbreaking Coen brothers film, but it didn't quite click for me. This is a hard film to review because I'm clearly in the minority here and it's quite hard to really pin down as to what I didn't love about this film, yet despite all the flaws I'm listing here, I can't rate this film as a bad or even mediocre movie. It's certainly a film that should be seen whether you're a fan of the gangster genre or the Coen brothers, because many will probably (and evidently, they have) adore this one more than me. It's most likely my least favorite Coen brothers film to date, but don't get me wrong, it certainly had its moments of brilliance and it had the style down, but I couldn't get myself invested into the characters nor the plot. Miller's Crossing is definitely an admirable effort that I can't hate, although I'm going to have to re-watch it if I really want to get hooked into the plot.

Three Godfathers

The 3 Godfathers is John Ford's version of the Biblical tale known as "The Three Wise Men", and its unconventional and innocent style of retelling the story makes this western stand out from most. It certainly has resemblance to the story, but it manages to retell and reimagine the tale without stealing, making it an original and fresh western. With a premise that could have easily resulted in an overly sentimental and corny mess of a film, John Ford managed to balance every necessary aspect of the tale in order to put the viewer on an emotional rollercoaster, whether it's humor, grit, or innocence and charm. While it does have its fair share of problems that unfortunately keep it from being a perfect western, and I certainly would've changed a lot of things, this film is undeniably charming and fun to watch. This is actually John Ford's second attempt at reimaging the tale, with his first being the 1919 film Marked Men. That film is considered a lost film, but one of the original actors from the film, Harry Carey, has his son, Harry Carey Jr., playing one of the three leads in this second attempt.

The 3 Godfathers, as I said, has parallels to "The Three Wise Men", but manages to incorporate many of John Ford's standout western elements in order to make it a fresh western. The 3 Godfathers is about three outlaws known as Bob Hightower (John Wayne), Pedro Roca (Pedro Armendariz), and William Kearney "The Abilene Kid" (Harry Carey Jr.), who rob a bank in the town of Welcome, Arizona, and while escaping, the sheriff known as Perley "Buck" Sweet (Ward Bond) try to chase and capture them. Once they've escaped, Perley sends men to station at potential areas where the three outlaws would come to in order to be one step ahead of them, and the three outlaws sees these men. They run away from the water tower, but they come across a dying woman. The dying woman gives her newborn to the outlaws and names it "Robert William Pedro", and the three must take care of the baby, making the outlaws "the three godfathers". Prior to watching this, I was scared because I feared that although the premise sounded very interesting and could lead to many different, unconventional paths, I was also skeptical that it may get carried away by over-sentimentality and corniness. I must say that it mostly reached my expectations, and it's certainly a hidden gem in the Wayne/Ford movie collaborations.

I loved all three performances by the leads, and I can't decide which one was my favorite. What was the most interesting aspect to me about these three was the fact that they started off as outlaws, robbing banks and causing havoc, practically being sinful people, but as they come across this baby, they practically change their ways and devote their lives to purity and peace. This is definitely one of the most innocent and charming westerns, and the interactions between all three leads resulted in all kinds of emotions. There were moments where I laughed, there were moments where I was worried, and there were moments where I was sad. My favorite part of this movie was when the three godfathers come across a book regarding how to take care of a newborn child, and there reactions as to how to read the book were hilarious. Harry Carey Jr., who plays the "Abilene Kid", actually makes his acting debut here, and he's honestly great. I felt like he had plenty of acting experience before this movie, and he was equally as good as Pedro Armendariz, who plays Pedro. John Wayne, who is one of the definitive and most popular faces of the western genre, is just as good as usual, and he's a reason to watch this movie alone (and the same can be said for pretty much all Wayne/Ford collaborations).


I feel like the baby in this movie, albeit being adorable, actually symbolizes purity during the west. John Wayne is in ragged, somewhat dirty clothing and he's surrounded by an abandoned stagecoach, a fallen bucket, and lots and lots of gritty sand. However, the baby that Wayne is carrying is in light blue cloth and he stands out in all the dark and grit of the west, and he symbolizes innocence and happiness in the west, and the baby's presence of innocence almost completely changes the lifestyle of the three outlaws, making them innocent as well. There are also lots of biblical references throughout the movie, and I would've been fine with them had they been a little more subtle. Honestly, there are shots where the bible's pages are flipping through the wind, landing exactly on a page that determines their next journey, and I feel like they went too far with the biblical undertones. My biggest problem is the last ten minutes or so, and before the ending, it's quite dark, but the last ten minutes make a change for the worse and turn into what I feared- overly sentimental and corny. I really did not care for the ending whatsoever and it did honestly leave me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

As common in many of John Ford's westerns, Ford realizes the beauty that could come out of the west, and he usually uses the Mountain Valley for his western locations. That location is one of the definitive visions of the west, but here, he uses a different location, and it's equally as breathtaking. There are some incredible, gorgeous shots in this movie where I was literally staring in awe with my mouth open. One shot in particular is when there's a sort of sandstorm in the desert and the sand makes this rippling effect through the wind, and I was seriously amazed. What's even more interesting is the fact that Ford manages to make this location visually appealing despite being a very gritty and rough atmosphere, and he combines a plethora of emotions and tenderness as well as the visually beautiful yet gritty western atmosphere, making for unexpected, jaw-dropping moments. There were moments where I literally almost cried, and there were moments where I was laughing quite hard, and I wish that the letdown of an ending really didn't take away from the experience.

When the name "John Ford" comes to many people's minds, most instantly think of a movie like The Searchers or The Grapes of Wrath. The 3 Godfathers is one of those westerns by him that aren't quite as remembered and appreciated as much as it should've been, but to those who make the effort to seek this film will certainly be in for a surprise. This is a hidden-gem of a western in the Ford/Wayne collaboration series, which is one of the best collaborations for movies to date, and although this is certainly nowhere near his best, it's definitely a one-of-a-kind, unconventional experience. I just wish they toned down the over-sentimentality and the biblical undertones, and the ending wasn't awful or anything, but it just sort of dragged and it was a bit too ridiculous for my tastes. That being said, there's still a lot to be taken from this visually beautiful, emotional film, and I suggest this movie to any Wayne/Ford fans.

Solomon Kane
Solomon Kane(2012)

The fantasy genre has been a troubled one in recent years, often producing movies that are visually striking but weak on every other important aspect, making for a bland, monotonous journey rather than an immersive, exciting journey. Films like this in recent memory include Paul W.S. Anderson's interpretation of The Three Musketeers, and rarely do we get a fantasy movie with such imagination and quality as Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Solomon Kane is no different from the troubled fantasy movie with the likes of The Three Musketeers (2011). It may seem unfair to compare such contrasting movies purely by the fact that they're "fantasy movies", but Solomon Kane fits the criteria for a bad movie of the genre exactly. It's visually beautiful, with incredible atmosphere and a nicely set-up world, yet it's never close to immersive or exciting. It often felt more like a b-movie rather than your average movie, and I don't mean that visually, but I mean that narratively. Everything about Solomon Kane lacks energy or life, and every scene starts with promise but ends up misusing the idea and ending off bitterly.

Solomon Kane opens up with a brutal, corrupt mercenary known as Solomon Kane (James Purefoy), who leads his group of men to attack a castle in a fortress town in order to steal gold, but each of his men are taken one after another by demonic creatures, and once Solomon reaches the gold, he is faced by the Devil's reaper with the intention of destining his soul to hell. Solomon escapes, and he realizes that he has to change his ways for the better and devote himself to purity and peace. He later meets a family of Puritans and assists them, but once they're ambushed by a brutal sorcerer named Malachi's marauders and one of the children named Meredith is kidnapped, Solomon must redeem his soul and rescue her. I can't say the opening got me on board, but after he realizes the man that he is and he goes to a snowbound sanctuary with the intention of redeeming his soul after escaping, I was very interested. It seemed like a movie that would offer a complex lead, and I can't quite say that he was complex, but he certainly was intriguing. The atmosphere that the movie sets up is brilliant, making full use of its variety of locations, whether its the beautiful, snowy plains or whether its the desolate, dark, wasteland-like plains. It's certainly a brooding film, and it's very well-shot, with interesting ambition for a fantasy film.

The acting is mostly cloudy with a few rays of sunshine, and that sunshine is mainly from the actor who played as Solomon Kane, James Purefoy. He fit the personality of an anti-hero excellently, and he often reminded me of a gunslinger, especially with his shady cape and costume while riding on a horse, as well as carrying a gun. Albeit some laughable moments and some questionable reactions and emotions to situations, I felt like his performance here was underrated, and I loved how he formed his character's personality as the sort of man who has "nothing to lose and everything to gain". Apart from the visuals, Purefoy was probably the biggest highlight of the movie. In terms of other acting, however, there really isn't anything special, and some performances are even below average. Max von Sydow is seriously wasted here as Solomon's father, only having a handful of minutes for screen time, and even then, the screen time that he had wasn't very interesting. The rest of the acting is sub-par stuff, with some decent performances but with the same amount of bad ones, such as some of the Puritan family, especially Meredtih. There are also many characters that really have no purpose other than to grunt and bleed.

However, despite the well-crafted world that was introduced, I must admit that I was never immersed into this world, and I was never exactly convinced of the conflicts that Solomon had to face. The biggest problem is the fact that there are so many laughable, stupid moments in the film that completely took me out of the film. There is no merit in the movie when it comes to the storyline or the writing, and that's a serious problem for a fantasy movie because it can't all be about the visuals. Lots of the dialogue feels like it's obviously being read from a script, with plenty of unnatural and ludicrous lines. Not even the storyline is anything worthwhile, often being bogged down and muddled by countless clichés and predictable directions. These problems were especially in the last hour, often relying on repetitive, poorly-constructed and badly-choreographed action sequences that go on far too long without entertaining or building tension whatsoever, and they become tedious. There are tons of continuity errors as well, and the biggest problem is the ending. There's a battle that didn't interest me mainly due to the fact that there wasn't any tension built up to it prior, and during the battle, an out-of-place CGI monster is thrown in as a touch of mainstream, and the very ending after the battle is absurd, nonsensical, and downright terrible.

I haven't read the works of Robert E. Howard regarding the character of Solomon Kane, but I'm almost certain it's probably better than this forgettable, inconsistent movie. Based on that, I don't know whether this movie is faithful to the source material, but as a stand-alone movie, I wasn't impressed. It certainly has the atmosphere down perfectly, and James Purefoy as Solomon Kane did a great job, but nothing else around those two things excited me. I also laughed quite a bit at some ridiculous, absurd scenes that tried to make things epic, and it doesn't help that the laughs were unintentional and that this movie tried to be something serious. I really wished I enjoyed it, because there aren't many things better than a fantasy film done right, but Solomon Kane certainly didn't reach the bar. It had potential, but it failed to reach it, although I'm sure that others would probably find more energy and life than I did. Solomon Kane is, at least to me, a poor fantasy movie that could've been so much better, perhaps almost potentially shifting the current direction of the genre.


Chinatown is a classic, somber neo-noir that took the concept of film noir to a whole new level, redefining the concept in the sense that it took the bold move to create something far more complex, deep, and devastating than previous outings of the genre, while still retaining the style and suspense that the genre stands for. Despite having all the familiar elements of the genre, whether its the unique visuals and style, detectives, politics, or henchmen, Chinatown feels like its paying homage to those old noirs, embracing the familiarity of those elements, while adding heaps of social commentary and complexity to make this neo-noir more than meaningful and distinguishable, rather than an all-out style over substance noir. It's part mystery, part psychological drama, and part social commentary on the division of classes and corruption in our nation and during the '30s. Yet with all these layers, Chinatown still somehow finds room to make itself an intriguing, entertaining, and very suspenseful journey, mainly thanks to Robert Towne's screenplay, which may just be one of the best ever written, or if its the cynical performance by Jack Nicholson.

Chinatown follows a private detective named J.J. "Jake" Gittes, who's visited by a woman who claims she's named Ewelyn Mulwray who's concerned about her husband, Hollis, asking Jake to investigate him as she thinks he's having an affair. Hollis also happens to be the engineer of the Los Angeles Department of Water, and at the same time, Los Angeles is caught up in the middle of a bad drought. Jake performances surveillance for a day on Hollis- however, later, Jake finds out that Hollis went missing, only to turn up drowned and dead. After coming back to his office, he's visited by the real Ewelyn Mulwray, telling Jake that they've never met before, and threatens Jake with a lawsuit for his involvement. Jake continues his investigation regarding this scenario, and the intricate plot follows him through a journey of deceit, murder, and secrets, with his intention to uncover what he believes involves a conspiracy with unknown motives. The plot sounds convoluted, but in reality, it's quite easy to follow, while increasingly becoming complex as time goes on. This may be the case considering I was so invested in the gripping plot that I didn't miss a single detail, and as a result I found it somewhat easy to follow. One of the fascinating aspects about this movie is realizing how complex the plot has increasingly grown by the end of the film, and it's definitely rewarding.

I can't stress enough how phenomenal the acting is here, especially the cynical, hard-boiled performance by Jack Nicholson. He outshines most actors when it comes to roles like this in a neo-noir, with the typical fedora, coat, and cigarette, but with so much more depth. It's almost as if Jack Nicholson was playing himself. He's a tough and upright man, yet he's damaged as well, and he often reveals that when he's in a troubled scenario. He feels like he has plenty of energy, yet he still feels like a quiet man, as if he was playing the Joker but quietly. Apart from Jack Nicholson, we have Faye Dunaway as Evelyn Mulwray, and similar to Jake, she has a damaged, troubled past that remains a secret until the end. She's clearly a vulnerable character, and at times, she almost feels as if she were some detached, distant, reclusive doll. Evelyn has that weird presence and sense of deceit and mystery, common in many previous noirs. The way she and Jake play off of each other with great chemistry makes the movie worth watching alone, but there are some other great performances here as well, and the movie wouldn't be anywhere as good without them. John Huston, the director of the incredible classics, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Maltese Falcon, surprisingly has a role here, and between Jack Nicholson and himself, I can't tell which one's the real star of the show. John Huston plays Noah Cross, Evelyn's father, who's the former owner of the Water Department along with Hollis Mulwray. He doesn't have much screen time in the movie, but for what he has, he's a cold, repulsive man, and you honestly hate him to bits by the end of the movie.

Of course, as with many noirs, there's a sort of "standard" that must be reached in order to classify yourself in the genre. There's the vibrant yet shadowy colors, the alternatively beautiful and depressing score, the twisty detective plot, and the dread, danger, and anxiety of the era. The cinematography has the familiar beautiful yet hostile and mysterious feeling, and Jerry Goldsmith's amazing score remains among my favorites I've heard in a noir movie. There's the familiar oddly lit, dark and beautiful atmosphere, and there are plenty of fedoras, coats, and cigarettes to gaze at. There's the femme fatale that the protagonist falls in love with, as well as the constant paranoia that both the audience and the characters feel through the movie. Polanski is at the top of his game here, fully utilizing all these classic noir elements yet adding so much more. The ending took me by surprise, and it practically killed my spirit. For those last five minutes, I honestly couldn't believe my eyes, and I was both riveted and sharking, the highest compliment I can give to an ending like that. Some may complain of the change of tone for the ending, and I've heard some say that it almost singlehandedly ruined the movie, but obviously, there's a significant meaning behind it that's not very hard to notice. Everything before the ending is happy and entertaining while being suspenseful and dark, but the ending turns the tables, and it shatters everyone in the movie, as well as the audience. People can't always control fate, but fate controls them. The American Dream and the authority behind the city are corrupt and failures, and the common people are helpless. Good intentions are suppressed, and the division of classes between the rich and the poor is unfair and meaningless.

I'm not jumping on the "bandwagon" when it comes to Chinatown, and I honestly loved it just as much as I expected to. Chinatown has clearly stood the test of time as a mature, poignant neo-noir, and it's just as powerful and affecting as it most likely was back in '74 when it was first released. With its mysterious, seemingly complex yet simply easy to follow plot, its dark yet beautiful atmosphere, its underlying themes that still pack the same punch today, and all the classic noir elements that defined the genre, it's honestly no wonder as to why Chinatown is one of Polanski's biggest achievements. Chinatown is one of those films from that very long "list" that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. Whether you're a huge fan of Polanski, the genre, or movies in general, Chinatown is one noir not to be missed.

Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen is a blatant rip-off of the original Die Hard, and rather than having a tone reminiscent to the original classic, its tone is reminiscent to all those clones the original resulted in from the late eighties and the early nineties. It clearly wants to be a throwback to old action movies, but there are so many outrageously stupid things that keep it from being a simple, fun action movie. There is no tension nor fun, and since that's what this movie relies on to attempt to entertain or provoke some kind of emotion to the audience, and since the movie has a run time of almost two hours, it's quite frankly a bore. All I expected from this movie prior to watching this movie was a simple action movie, perhaps a little familiar and reminiscent to the Die Hard franchise, but all I ended up with was a shameful, irritating mess of an action movie. This was almost barely watchable and almost completely forgettable, leaving my mind almost completely only after an hour or two. There's the occasional good moment, but otherwise, don't even bother with this one- rewatch the original Die Hard, if anything.

Olympus Has Fallen, as I said, has a similar plot to a Die Hard movie. It's essentially "Die Hard in the White House", or even "A Good Day to Die Hard in the White House" because it's just about at the same level of quality as A Good Day to Die Hard (perhaps a little better). Olympus Has Fallen is about a Presidential agent named Mike Banning (Gerald Butler) who finds himself trapped in the White House when it's taken over by a terrorist named Kang (Rick Yune), and an even bigger threat is the fact that the president (Aaron Eckhart) is kidnapped. It's a formulaic plot at this point, considering the plot has been mimicked and used very often ever since the original Die Hard, but that wouldn't be a problem had it not have relied on action clichés so much to entertain the audience. Everything feels so familiar, and it's basically an inferior version of Die Hard in every aspect, whether its the interactions between the protagonist and the authority/the villain, or if its simply the action. It even copies scenes, perhaps trying to pay homage to the scenes, but it just comes off as lazy and a desperate attempt to extend the film's length.

Mike Banning is our John McClane of this movie, and I've heard lots of good things about Gerald Butler's performance here. His performance really wasn't anything special, and he wasn't bad, but he wasn't convincing, either. He was practically just your generic, wooden action hero that you honestly didn't care for, as opposed to a protagonist like John McClane who actually has lots of development and is vulnerable to being attacked, making you constantly worry about him. He even has a walkie-talkie to communicate with both the villain and the remaining White House agents, and I couldn't help but notice blatant similarities to John McClane's interactions with Hans Gruber and the police. Mike tries to spit out witty one-liners that are supposed to make you root for him more and think he's cool, but they're the complete opposite, and they're laughable. Speaking of the villain, Kang is sadly forgettable here. It's a shame because I like Rick Yune as an actor, and on paper, it would seem like he would completely fit the role here. Unfortunately, the writing completely kills off any menacing or intimidating factors that he could have potentially had. The rest of the cast is nice, with Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman, but again, none of these actors are given particularly interesting or exciting material.

The script kills off any potential fun this movie could have had, often taking itself too seriously for a ridiculous plan by these terrorists, and with horrendous, cringe-worthy attempts at witty one-liners. There's this incredibly stupid subplot about this "Cerberus code", and I laughed at the sheer stupidity of that idea. That's definitely one of the more stupid things I've seen in an action movie for a while. Well, it wouldn't matter if the plot, the characters, and the writing are all cardboard cutouts if the action is entertaining and tense, right? The action is nowhere near entertaining or tense. Near the beginning when the actual terrorists take over, there's a ton of horrendous, artificial-looking CGI, although the problem becomes less and less of a fault as the movie goes on. I guess it really is a throwback to old action movies, with both old-fashioned attempts at entertainment and old-fashioned, early stages of awful CGI from the '90s. The shoot outs aren't bad, and there's certainly a high body count, along with buckets of blood, yet I never found myself entertained. There's almost a sadistic nature to the violence, with agents being tied up and tortured by the terrorists, while screaming in pain and leaving behind trails of blood. It left a nasty, gratuitous taste in my mouth, and I see that they're trying to make a gritty R-rated action movie for action junkies, but it was honestly distracting. Although I must admit that I did find some tension at certain points, especially quiet scenes where you feel like something unpredictable is about to happen (but it usually ends up exactly as you'd expect).

Before I end this review, I must bring up the topic of patriotism in this movie. It is absurdly distracting and outrageously stupid, almost disturbingly feeling like a U.S. propaganda movie. The terrorists are North Koreans and they're portrayed like the Russians were in those old Cold War movies- heartless savages-, while the Americans are portrayed as heroic, brave people (which they are at certain points to an extent, but it's so obvious and blatant that it takes away from the film). It overly dramatizes certain scenes that have themes of family, and there's an annoying, overly dramatic score at times as well, and both of these result in a failed attempt at development. There's this one absolutely awful scene where this secretary is being dragged by the North Koreans, and while she's being dragged, she screams, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America!". Not only that, but the last twenty minutes of this film are incredibly irritating and vile, where Aaron Eckhart's president is giving a speech about everything we "love" about America, and that speech is repulsive and disturbingly stupid. I really can't stress enough about how much this film glorifies in patriotism, and it'll probably lure lots of American audiences and shun international audiences.

Olympus Has Fallen is a bad action movie that really didn't have much sign of being good in the first place. It's neither thrilling nor entertaining, and with a lack of development (especially with a wooden, generic character that you don't care about whatsoever) and a heap of distractingly dumb propaganda, Olympus Has Fallen is really just a boring action movie. It won't satisfy anyone that isn't a fan of the action genre, and I can't say that I'm not a fan of the action genre, but I despise the formulaic, clichéd ones that we seem to not be able to get enough of. Even then, action fans will probably find this one too familiar, and they'll probably be turned off as well. I thought this would be the sort of "turn your brain off" action movie, but that was impossible for me since everything was so effortless. I realized that I compared this movie a lot to Die Hard, but honestly, I couldn't help it when some scenes were almost stolen from the original. Please skip Olympus Has Fallen, and do yourself a favor and watch Die Hard again.

Pacific Rim
Pacific Rim(2013)

Pacific Rim is an odd film to think about, especially considering it's made by director Guillermo Del Toro, who's the same person behind Pan's Labyrinth. Comparing the two, they're almost completely different movies, with one being an adult horror-fantasy movie, and with the other purely being a fantasy. However, even though the films barely have anything similar with each other, it's the fact that they're both fantasy films that define what they are. Pacific Rim is a fantasy that is purely escapism entertainment, almost defining the world "blockbuster". I can't say I loved it, and it's definitely a flawed movie, but I would be lying if I said I didn't have fun with this movie. What sets this apart from lots of the other blockbusters of this year (and recent years, as well) is the fact that all the action is clearly visible and are perfectly executed, as opposed to movies like Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel where action sequences often go on too long, it's hard to tell what's clearly going on during the action, and they're often shot too distractingly.

What makes me really sad is the fact that Michael Bay's Transformers movies were far more successful than this one, despite Pacific Rim being a lot less mindless and with a lot more human drama (as well as just being a lot cooler). The characters are absolutely wooden in the Transformers movies, the action is only rarely entertaining, and everything else flops, whether its the humor or the plotline. Pacific Rim elaborates more on the elements often shunned during many blockbusters, while still focusing a lot on the action. They're both similar in the sense that huge, colossal figures are fighting against each other, with robots vs. robots in Transformers and robots vs. monsters in Pacific Rim, as well as weaker character elements than actual action, but what sets Pacific Rim apart is that it's far more well made in every aspect. Sadly, when the Transformers movies were out, they were at the top of the box office, but when it's Pacific Rim's turn, it's beaten by movies like Grown Ups 2. I really don't understand the logic behind that whatsoever. Perhaps the reasoning behind this is the fact that the Transformers series has a grounded fan base, as opposed to Pacific Rim which is a new, original idea without a proper "fan base".

Pacific Rim is about monsters known as Kaiju that rise from the sea and threaten humanity, so to combat them, humans created giant war machines known as Jaegers, triggering a war against the two. When humanity is in danger by these Kaiju, it's up to two pilots that team up, Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam), a former pilot, and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a trainee, in order to protect humanity. If you ask me, that's a fairly standard plot for a movie like this, but what sets this apart from other monster movies is the execution. It is incredibly original and refreshing to see a concept like this, especially with so many unique elements thrown in such as the detailed designs for the Jaegers and the Kaiju. The world is immersive and the futuristic lifestyle that the people live in is truly wonderful to look at. Del Toro clearly has an eye for visuals, especially with his attention to making such a detailed, vibrant, and beautiful world, and that was also proved in his previous movies, especially Pan's Labyrinth (which is one of the most beautiful, immersive movies I've seen). It's also pretty obvious that Del Toro is passionate about this subject, and he seems to be a huge fan of these types of ideas.

I can't say the whole cast's acting is great, with the lead character played by Charlie Hunnam being only decent. I felt like I had the same problem with this character as I did with Garrett Hedlund's leading character in Tron Legacy, as well as Sam Worthington's leading character in the 2009 Avatar. He sort of felt wooden and generic, and he wasn't bad or anything, but he obviously had the least depth out of the group. It's not a throwaway performance, but he didn't feel like anything too special. The same really can't be said about the rest of the cast, and I can't say the attempts at emotional attachment to these characters are entirely successful, but I still did have some sort of attachment to them. Rinko Kikuchi as Raleigh's partner, Mako Mori, was actually quite cool, and she had some decent chemistry with Raleigh. Idris Elba also has a major role in the movie, and not only is he awesome (with a very cool speech towards the end), but he also adds some surprising heart. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman are over-the-top scientists, and along with Ron Perlman, they add some energetic fun to the story. I can't say the acting is great, but the performances carried the film in the right direction, strongly.

Even if the depth isn't completely successful, it's really all about the action, right? Not entirely, actually, considering quite a lot of time is spent on attempting to develop these characters, and since at times it is somewhat dumb at times and it's not as strong as it could have been, it does hurt the film somewhat. Even then, overly criticizing about the lack of depth is pointless and absurd, because honestly, the biggest intentions of this movie are mainly just entertainment. The visual effects in this movie are incredible, and the fights are breathtaking. You seriously feel the power put into every punch by either side, and the mixture of practical and special effects feels realistic and superb, and a lot more realistic than the Transformers action. The action is arguably mindless; however, when it comes to that argument, it's obviously anything but "intelligent", but I wouldn't define it as mindless. The only problem that I had when it came to the action was the fact that pretty much every fight scene took place at night while it was raining, and I sort of feel like both the Jaegers and the Kaiju could've been scaled down to make the action more smooth. These are only small prices to pay when it comes to solid, refreshing entertainment.

Is Pacific Rim a perfect movie? No. Does it need to be? Of course not. Pacific Rim is unpretentious, very entertaining stuff that felt refreshing to watch, and that's all it needs to be. There's no point in nit-picking about every small detail or overly criticizing it, because honestly, this movie is self-aware and you should really just accept it for what it is. It made me feel like a kid again, and that's the biggest compliment I could give to a movie like this. This is sort of the movie that you would expect to play out based on watching the trailer, nothing more and nothing else, and it's definitely a case of style over substance (at least to me), but it really didn't matter one bit in the end. Pacific Rim is pure escapist entertainment that begs to be watched on the biggest screen possible. Pacific Rim is one cool rollercoaster ride.

The Gunfighter

The Gunfighter is a surprising western drama that reminds me more of a noir film then an actual western, despite having western elements. Rather than filling itself up to the brim with shootouts and standoffs, The Gunfighter brings up topics regarding the reality of the era, rather than mythologizing everything. I can't say that the film had many tense moments, nor is it a fast paced western whatsoever, but the fact that it takes its time to tell its tale does help it to become more powerful and affecting. As far as I know, this is one of the first westerns to really shift the genre away from predictable plots and clichés (despite often building off of them in order to build the protagonist's conflict, such as smart-mouthed, naive gunslingers challenging him in a bar), and it paints a realistic and quite pessimistic portrayal of the west. It felt very refreshing to watch, and it's not perfect, but at least it made the effort to be unique in the midst of the awakening of predictable westerns at the time.

The Gunfighter opens up with the notorious fast-drawing gunslinger named Jimmy Ringo (Gregory Peck) stopping at a bar for a drink, but a young, naive gunslinger recognizes his reputation and disrupts him, deliberately provoking an argument with each other. The young gunslinger then proceeds to draw on him during a challenge but Ringo is left with no choice other than to kill him. However, the gunslinger has three brothers who seek revenge on Ringo for the death of their brother, and he escapes to the town of Cayenne with the intention of meeting his old wife and son. From there on, the story of Jimmy Ringo continues, often focusing on his intention of leaving behind his notorious past, and most of it takes place in a single bar in the town of Cayenne. When I was watching the film and I heard Ringo's first name to be "Jimmy" rather than Johnny, I was quite confused until it came to my attention that they changed his name, most likely to reference Johnny but not use his name as a filler like most westerns did at the time (I honestly have no idea behind the reasoning).

"Jimmy" Ringo is excellently portrayed by Gregory Peck, and he's the main reason I watched this film, although I got plenty more than his performance upon viewing. Peck almost carries the film alone, and his cool-headed yet intelligent personality and his emotional performance that shows the human side of the west is brilliant. This western is definitely a must-see for any fans of Peck, and the sincerity and emotion he brings to his performance is compelling and powerful. Apart from Peck himself, there was also a supporting performance as a marshal by Millard Mitchell, and he has a very engaging performance that fit his character's intentions perfectly. The dialogue between just about every character is near-perfect, and it's very meaningful and powerful stuff, with subtext that will make you think long after the film is over, even if you do have to sit through some clichés at times in both dialogue and scenarios. There's plenty of complexity from each character, especially Jimmy, and the main conflict of his is his longing to end gunslinging and his troubled reputation, as well as the fact that all he really wants in life is to live alone with his family. With all the mature complexity of both the characters and the dialogue, there's a lot to chew on, especially when it comes to the themes of the west.

The main message the film tries to emphasize on is the trouble and the overall terrible price that a man has to pay when it comes to fame. Ringo's notorious reputation brings him plenty of fame and recognition in the town and in bars, often being surrounded by citizens, and he's almost an out-cast because of that since it usually leads to inevitable violence. His emotions make you feel for him and he clearly shows all his regret as a gunslinger and his longing for a new, trouble-free life through his subtle expressions. He soon realizes that he really has nothing to live for, and the fact that he's aging throws his chance at his hopes for the future out the window, and you feel his pain. The final scene is great and surprising, and without spoiling, it manages to bring up a lot of material for discussion in a relatively short time. Everything often reminded me of a noir more than a western, especially with a stoic-like, doomed protagonist that is hidden by the shadows and all these civilians that have an almost bloodthirsty attitude comparable to an outlaw (or a gangster), as well as a life in a dark, troublesome world.

Unfortunately, I can't say that it's a perfect western, even with all this poignant beauty surrounding it. As I stated a lot previously in the review, there are some clichés that are brought up in order to prove the film's point, and how much it has to rely on them until the complexity kicks in is a little frustrating. I also must admit that it isn't very tense for most of the time, and I didn't feel like it wasn't going anywhere, but it wasn't very compelling for the whole time either. It was never boring by any means, but it wasn't extremely engaging at many times of the movie, either. I sort of just felt like I was watching it, and although I knew it had a point and I felt pain and sorrow for the protagonist, I wasn't completely hooked in to the movie. There are also no shoot outs in the movie (although a few shots are fired at times), and that's not a problem to me because a western doesn't need one if it brings up relevant, thoughtful topics, but I thought I'd point that out to reassure that this isn't exactly what you would consider an action-packed, "entertaining" western.

The Gunfighter is definitely a transcendent western of its time and it still is, and if you're a fan of Gregory Peck (or the western genre in general), this is a must-see. The Gunfighter is barely ever optimistic, nor is it completely pessimistic, but it does bring sorrow and sympathy for the protagonist. It focuses more on the shades of gray during the era instead of the shades of color, and it manages to bring up a lot of thoughtful subtext while doing so. A western doesn't always have to be about a gunslinger shooting an outlaw and riding into the sunset as the end credits play, and The Gunfighter shows that even without that cliché, a western can still be good. The Gunfighter is a thoughtful western that should be seen by not only fans of the western genre, but of fans of dramas in general, especially with the surprising amount of maturity it brings to the table.

Killing Season

Killing Season is a gratuitously gory, pretentious thriller that doesn't understand how good of a concept it has, nor does it recognize the talents of the two lead actors. The thought of having both Robert De Niro and John Travolta on screen together is surely an exciting thought, but director Mark Steven Johnson buries them under tons of propaganda and a lack of thrills from its intriguing premise. This is a missed opportunity of a great thriller, and apparently John McTiernan almost directed the first draft, but unfortunately, the end result was left with directing by the same man behind the first Ghost Rider movie, as opposed to a potential end result by the man behind classics like Predator and Die Hard 1 and 3. Killing Season wants to be some sort of groundbreaking, artsy thriller with thought-provoking subtext, but at the same time, it wants to be a mainstream cat and mouse thriller as well, and the overall result is forgettable and very bland.

Killing Season is about an aging American military veteran named Benjamin Ford (Robert De Niro) who attempts to forget about the horrors of his experience in the Bosnian war by isolating himself from civilization in a cabin in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. However, a former Bosnian soldier named Emil Kovac (John Travolta) seeks revenge on Ford because of Ford's actions during the war to him, and as he visits the Appalachian Mountains in search of him, Emil poses as a European tourist. He meets Ford and Emil pretends to be his acquaintance, but when Kovac reveals his intentions, he starts a one-on-one war against each other in the mountains. It doesn't begin with much promise, so right from the beginning, I started to worry about a missed opportunity with such an interesting premise. It opens up with war sequences regarding the Bosnian war, and the information given is delivered in a serious tone, which obviously wouldn't have been a problem had the information given not been biased lies.

Even if you try to view this movie as pure fiction, it's incompetent and disjointed. The acting is mainly just Robert De Niro and John Travolta against each other in the Appalachians, and De Niro is alright but Travolta is laughable and cringe-worthy. De Niro isn't bad here, and he certainly doesn't reach his past heights of his career, but the biggest problem is that considering the material he's given is so bland, it feels like his role could've been played by just about anyone. Travolta is beyond bad here, and just knowing that he has a Bosnian accent is enough to not expect much from his performance. It's very obvious that it's a fake accent, and it's even worse when you hear him singing Johnny Cash's "Don't Take Your Guns To Town". It's not unbearable, thankfully, since it can be viewed as comedic gold. I feel bad for these two actors, especially looking at their past career (especially De Niro), and I feel like the only reason they signed up for this movie was for quick cash. It's safe to say that their reign of being good actors is clearly over.

On to the actual one-on-one war in the Appalachian Mountains, it's quite disappointing and unnecessarily gory. It's definitely not for the squeamish, but I had no problem with the levels of gore. It's the fact that there was absolutely no point of having it, and it took me out of the film constantly. There's one scene where De Niro shoots an arrow through Travolta's jaw, and then ties him down on a mat and pours salted lemonade on his wounds. There are plenty of scenes like that throughout the movie, and if you get a kick out of that kind of torture, you'll probably be amused. The torture is reminiscent to Eli Roth's macabre torture sequences, and it feels sadistic and very gratuitous. There is zero tension in the cat-and-mouse chase, especially when there are action sequences bogged down by shaky cam to hide bad stunt work and the use of stuntmen. Everything feels so predictable in the chase, and right when one of them are about to get killed mindlessly by the other, they somehow escape, and it gets on repeating.

Apparently the script has been recognized as an impressive script that has been unused and un-produced, and it definitely doesn't live up to that reputation. The dialogue between the characters is really nothing special or smart at all, and it's more bland than engaging. There are poor attempts to build the characters' relationships between each other near the beginning when Travolta is deceiving De Niro as a European tourist, and at times, it even feels like a buddy-comedy. After that, the writing doesn't get much better, and any attempts at building tension and conflicts between the two are failed. There is no meat nor substance, but there are obvious, pretentious attempts, especially with the many religious themes as well as themes that try to bring up topics of human nature. I'm about to spoil the ending of the movie (not like it really matters), but before that, there are some nice things about the movie. The cinematography of the Appalachian Mountains is truly beautiful and very nice to look at, and I feel like the director tried to replicate the mood and the tone of John Boorman's Deliverance from 1972. At times, it's surprisingly effective, and I also liked the music here.

The ending of the movie tries to be something surprising, special, and riveting, but it's questionable. Before Travolta betrays De Niro in the middle of the film, they go on a hunting trip, and De Niro is telling a story to Travolta, but Travolta tells him to kill the hunting prey in front of him, calling it purely "meat and flesh" and tells him to put it out of its misery. The climax takes place in a church and De Niro beats Travolta and ties him up, putting him on top of a cliff, about to murder him. Travolta then urges De Niro to shoot him in the head, while Travolta calls himself "meat and flesh", telling De Niro to put him out of his misery. De Niro doesn't shoot and then he unties Travolta, and they stop fighting and they become "friends" in a way. De Niro then finishes his story from before the conflict, and the two discuss themes of the war, then proceeding to go on about their daily life. It makes absolutely no sense, especially when you look back at all the events that happened, such as shooting another in the jaw with an arrow. It tries to bring up themes about the Bosnian war, but all it ends up doing is depicting the Serbians as terrorists and savages, and it serves as propaganda towards the Americans. It's a pretentious, bad ending.
----End of Spoilers----

Killing Season is a waste of time, and I have no idea as to why I'm talking so much about it. I just feel the need to express my thoughts on attempts like these that come off as pretentious and incompetent messes. Even with an interesting, simple story, and two ex-great actors, Killing Season fails to deliver anything thrilling, nor does it deliver anything thought-provoking or relevant. It never manages to go deeper into the idea of post-war trauma, nor does it truly become a riveting experience about a potentially dark and disturbing topic. I could go on for a long time as to why this movie is bad, but there's really no point when I could easily summarize it's success as a pointless endeavor that lacks any distinction or any focus whatsoever. Killing Season is a terrible thriller, and it's unfortunate that it fails to meet any of the the potential that it had.

The Quick and the Dead

The Quick and the Dead is a childish, bland bore of a western by Sam Raimi that failed to hold my interest for its run time even with all the talent behind the mess, such as Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, and Leonardo DiCaprio. As I stated many times before, the western genre is my favorite genre, but when I say that, I mostly direct that statement towards old western movies from people like John Ford, Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci, Anthony Mann, etc. However, when it comes to modern westerns, I usually don't find myself enjoying them, and Sam Raimi is definitely not among those names. Sure, we have the occasional True Grit remake or 3:10 To Yuma remake, but we also have the more often mediocre westerns like this one that tries to recreate the impact of the older westerns. Sam tries to bring his comic book style approach to the western genre and he fails completely, and the whole film has this odd, yellow filter over the screen. Don't get me wrong, the "humorous" style of westerns has been attempted before and has worked, but this movie brings no fun from that concept and is frankly a bore. It's not really like it had much potential to begin with, anyway, and from the very beginning I could clearly tell this was a movie made strictly for those who enjoys their movies cartoonish. At times it wants to be serious, and at other times it wants to be funny (at least I think it wants to be), but the fact that everything is all over the screen and chaotic makes all of that impossible. It's a pure mess for one hour and forty-five minutes.

The Quick and the Dead is about a mysterious female gunslinger (Sharon Stone) who arrives at a town known as Redemption for a quick-draw contest held by the town's ruthless outlaw leader, John Herod (Gene Hackman). She meets a pacifist man named Cort (Russell Crowe) as well as "The Kid" (Leonardo DiCaprio), and the gunslinger seeks revenge on Herod for her father's death as the contest progresses. The Quick and the Dead does have a fairly standard western plot of a mysterious stranger riding into town (especially considering it really just copies Leone's collaborations with Clint Eastwood as The Man With No Name), and although it is a cliche by now, I think what Sam Raimi was trying to do was pay homage to the genre. Does that make this movie any good? Not really, considering it's not a very enjoyable homage. It would be more effective had it gone further than just that cliche, but it unfortunately doesn't and tries to stay in the comfort zone of westerns, making us feel like everything is far too familiar.

Each of the characters participating in this quick-draw contest are all diverse, yet they're far too corny and silly to take seriously, ruining all potential tension that could result from the standoffs. They aren't anywhere close to charismatic and they come off as pure annoying, even though they're acted decently. Sharon Stone is simply miscast, and she really isn't very convincing or effective here. It's interesting to see a different addition to the genre by having a female lead gunslinger rather than a male- unfortunately, she's written as a lifeless and bland character. A gunslinger of few words can always be cool, but that's only if the few words that he or she says are well-written. Not so much here, considering every word she says comes off as dull and cliched. There are other decent actors in the movie, such as Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, and Leonardo Dicaprio. Gene Hackman is an alright villain, and he's acted well but he's not very menacing.

I didn't care much about the plot regarding Stone's revenge on Herod, considering I felt no emotion in those scenes nor did I have sympathy for Stone's younger character nor her dying father. It wants to mimic a sequence like High Plains Drifter or Once Upon a Time in the West, but it's ultimately laughable. In a way, Gene does help the film rise above its problems a little, but he's simply not well-written. Russell Crowe is OK here, but he's not really good nor bad. His character is completely lifeless with little to no emotion at all, and there's no distinguishable traits that make his character a stand-out here. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a young, cocky gunslinger named "The Kid", and he's probably the best out of the bunch. Leonardo was very young here and it's weird to compare his role in this movie to one of his more recent roles, yet he's so enthusiastic in this bland setting that I liked his character. The acting is overall decent, but it's really not the acting here that's the problem, it's the style.

As I previously stated, Sam Raimi brings this comic-strip style to the film and his style doesn't mesh well with the intentions. I don't know if it's trying to be a parody to the old westerns, either, or a simple homage, nor do I know when it's trying to be serious and when it's not. Either way, the attempted humor isn't really funny at all, and I found myself rolling my eyes rather than chuckling. One of the bigger problems of the movie is the camerawork, and the scenery doesn't look very good (considering it's this ugly, yellow-ish, brown mixture), and even worse, the camerawork is bad. It has lots of weird angles and horrendous slow-motion footage that makes the film look ludicrous. The ludicrous nature of a movie can benefit it and make everything enjoyable, but only when it's nice to look at, and here, it's anything but that. It all feels too modernized, and that's usually not a problem if it doesn't also want to be old-fashioned, and a combination of the two doesn't mix well. There's even one small part where a man gets shot in the head during a duel with Herod, and there's a huge hole through his head, and it looks ridiculous. Sequences like that took me out of the film.

The gunfights are alright, although they're usually accompanied by strange camera angles. Some are impressive, while others are ugly. The final showdown is somewhat underwhelming and unsatisfying, and I didn't care much about what was going on, but my main concern is a part a few minutes before that when Stone's character fills the town with explosives. When the clock ticks and the two participants must draw their guns (Herod and Cort), the dynamite goes off, and I swear that it was a more harmful then helpful approach at revenge considering how many innocent civilians were around. That is, unless, Stone's character's main intention was to restore the law if it meant anything, and didn't care if innocent people were in the way.

The Quick and the Dead was a tedious, very dull western that was a waste of time for me, but if you enjoy your movies as cartoonish and silly (to a fault), then you'll probably like this one. Sam Raimi's comic-book style didn't work for me and I didn't find myself entertained, and that's a huge problem considering this movie is not towards the shorter side. It's also cliched, and it's a bore considering it takes an already familiar concept and makes it even worse. It's all too lifeless and visually overblown to care about, and it's absolutely chaos. The Quick and the Dead is unfortunately one of the worse westerns I've seen in a while, and it's not very recommendable on any level.

Raising Arizona

Raising Arizona is the Coen brothers' first comedy film, and it's really not much of a big deal, but it's just as quirky, entertaining, and charming as you would expect it to be. It's probably one of the wackiest and craziest Coen brothers film, and it may be to a fault at points, especially at times when everything is a little too chaotic and hectic to really enjoy what's going on. As with many Coen brothers films, this film won't appeal to everyone and some may dismiss it as a stupid comedy, but considering their films are sort of an "acquired taste", those who can appreciate their unique style will more than likely have fun with this one. What I like about their films is the fact that they're all really diverse, whether it's a style such as No Country for Old Men, or whether it's a style like Fargo or The Big Lebowski, and Raising Arizona is no exception.

Raising Arizona is about a criminal named H.I. McDonnough (Nicolas Cage) who often gets arrested, and he ends up meeting an officer named Ed (Holly Hunter) since she takes his mugshots every time. H.I. learns that Ed's fiancé has left her, so he proposes to her and they both marry, later moving to a remote desert home. They want to have children, but Ed learns that she's infertile, and as they learn on the news about a salesman named Nathan Arizona (Trey Wilson) that has quintuplets, H.I. and Ed come to the conclusion that they can kidnap one of their babies for their own, whilst giving the Arizona family less of a burden of taking care of their children. From there on, it's purely bonkers, and it's very, very fun. Some may argue that it's dumb, and that is true, but the sheer stupidity of everything involved gives the film an odd sense of innocence, and in a way, it's so dumb that it's genius. It's definitely not a "so-bad-it's-good" film, however, because the Coen brothers' intentions are very obvious.

Right from the opening, it's obvious that this film is an unconventional comedy. There's a narration by H.I. about how he got into his current state, and it has a very quirky, enjoyable nature, along with yodeling music playing over it. Everything about this film, whether it's the opening credits or the climax, is very original and absurd, and it easily proves the Coen brothers' talent for imagination. The casting is perfect, and what I noticed was the fact that everyone in the cast looked like they were having some sort of fun with this, and they completely understood the direction of the film and how absurd everything was. They definitely played along well. Starting off, Nicolas Cage is insanely good here. Where as for some (not all) of his other roles, which range from flat-out bad to acting or acting that I can't exactly tell if it's so-bad-it's-good or if it's just good, you can really tell Cage did his best here. Probably not his craziest role, but it's definitely his weirdest, and he's lots of fun here. It really is unfortunate that he barely reached his career heights after films like these.

Nicolas Cage isn't the only star here, with excellent acting from the rest of the cast as well, including (but not limited to, considering just about everyone here is great) Holly Hunter, John Goodman, William Forsythe, and Randall Cobb. Holly Hunter as H.I.'s wife is just as enjoyable as Cage's role, and she's very funny and charming. John Goodman and William Forsythe are two prison buddies and friends of H.I., and there are some scenes with them where I laughed so hard that I had to rewind the next scenes to understand what was going on. Randall Cobb is the main villain here, and he's a strange apocalyptic biker that gets thrown in the mix. Frances McDormand also makes a small appearance, and she overacts, but her overacting is particularly what makes her small role hilarious. Her family is crazy as well, and Sam McMurray as her husband as well as the rude, obnoxiously funny children are out-of-this-world and bizarre. Pretty much everything in the acting area is terrific stuff, and it can be awfully, painfully hilarious, or just simply charming and smooth.

It also goes without saying that the overall look and feel of the film is perfect, whether it's Carter Burwell's soundtrack or if it's the cinematography. Carter Burwell, who composed the music for almost all Coen brothers' films, nails down the tone of the film perfectly, and the cinematography is a delight to look at. It also features one of the best chase scenes I've seen in a long time, and it's definitely a highlight of the film. What's even funnier is the reasoning behind the chase scene, and that alone makes me laugh. Sadly, here's where the problems of the film arise, because, unfortunately, Raising Arizona isn't quite perfect. I'm not trying to be critical or snobby when it comes to a film like this, because Raising Arizona's intentions were purely to be an absurdly enjoyable comedy. As absurdly enjoyable as it is, it often borders chaotic and hectic, and that, at times, does take away from the comedic elements of the film. Although the pacing is good, the ideas are somewhat uneven at times. However, the biggest problem is after the climax, where this unnecessary narration by H.I. about his life happens and it's overly sentimental, having no real purpose at all. In a way, it left me with a mildly bitter taste in my mouth, and they could've gone fine without it.

Raising Arizona is hilarious stuff, yet it's only good, and not great. I don't think it's "overlooked" or anything, nor is it overrated, because Raising Arizona is purely wacky fun, and that's all it needs to be. I can't lie and say that I didn't have tons of fun with this one, and even if I did find a lot of flaws that did take away from the comedy and the quirkiness of the film, it's still one unique, screwball comedy. It really is odd to look at the Coen brothers' career and to notice that it consists of both types of films such as No Country for Old Men, and films such as this, which are practically the complete opposite when it comes to sophisticated filmmaking. Raising Arizona is a must-see for anyone that likes the Coen brothers, or just wants to brighten up their day and have a good laugh.

Rear Window
Rear Window(1954)

Rear Window is one of Alfred Hitchcock's best movies and one of the most well-known of the suspense genre, and for great reason too. Though not my favorite Hitchcock (out of the ones I've seen, I really can't decide, but probably Vertigo), Rear Window works on every level, and the most fascinating part about how well this movie works is the fact that the whole film takes place in one single, small area. It's a very inventive technique that influenced the later films of the genre, and it's really no wonder as to why the greatest aspects of the film have been copied over and over again since it was released. I doubt Hitchcock would've predicted just about how huge Rear Window's legacy would be, but now nearly sixty years later after its release in 1954, it's pretty obvious that both its technical and storytelling techniques created a foundation for many later thrillers. It feels like you're right next to the characters at the very moment the events are happening, and that's just one of the many breathtaking aspects that this film has to offer.

Rear Window has a really interesting premise about a photojournalist named L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart) who was a broken leg and finds himself confined to his tight, small apartment room right next to the window. His only way to pass time is to stare outside his window into his neighbors' apartment rooms, taking note of what they're doing. As he watches his neighbors' activities on a daily basis because that's just about what he's limited to when it comes to entertainment, he's regularly visited by his nurse (Thelma Ritter) and his girlfriend named Lisa (Grace Kelly). That's just about all I'll say about the plot of this movie because for just about every suspenseful movie, it's always better to not know all too much and allow yourself to be immersed into the atmosphere. Here, the atmosphere is brilliant, and as I previously stated, the very fact that the whole film takes place in an enclosed area might sound boring and uninteresting with no possible way for suspense to occur, but it takes full advantage of that idea and adds incredible tension.

One of the best parts about this movie is James Stewart as the protagonist. James Stewart is one of my favorite actors and he couldn't of been any better here, and as lots of Hitchcock movies follow, the protagonist is usually an ordinary man who finds himself in the midst of trouble. As the film begins, you're introduced to this ordinary man living an ordinary life, although restrained by his broken leg, and you can't possibly imagine as to how trouble would occur, but it really does, and very effectively. The best part about his character are his reactions to his neighbors' activities, and he always has this very subtle yet fascinating reaction that expresses his emotion very entertainingly and interestingly. It's often funny to see what his neighbors are doing and what he thinks of them, and their activities feel genuine and real. I felt his character's pain because it looked awful to stay in such a confined, sweltering area with nothing to do for a whole seven weeks, but I felt like I was on a journey with these characters as the events were happening, and by the end of the film, I realized that I felt like I was right next to them.

James Stewart is not the only highlight in the acting department, and Grace Kelly as his girlfriend, Lisa, as well as Thelma Ritter as the nurse and Wendell Corey as a detective, are all diverse and very entertaining to watch. As the film progresses and you're introduced to these characters more thoroughly, you feel a relationship developing between them, and overall, all the characters are very well-developed. There are a few moments where I chuckled because of their relationship towards each other, and Jeffries's girlfriend, Lisa, has a high-class, celebrity-like, sophisticated lifestyle, as opposed to Jeffries's more enclosed lifestyle, and he feels like she's not meant for him for that reason. That idea progresses as the film goes on, building more depth to their relationship. There's also another actor that plays a character really well, but I'd rather not say what his role is because that would ruin the fun and suspense of the plot.

As I stated, all of the neighbors' activities are very interesting and fun to watch, and they all result in some kind of emotion, whether its laughter, mystery, or sadness. There's a ballet dancer with a healthy social life by the name of "Ms. Torso", as well as "Ms. Lonelyhearts", who's a lonely woman that refuses to accept that fact, and pretends that she has a man in love with her. There are also others such as a musician, a salesman, a newly wed couple, a couple that sleeps on their balcony, and a few more. Hitchcock even makes a cameo in one small part, and I'm fairly sure that he makes a cameo in just about every one of his movies. These neighbors seem to mostly keep their windows open (allowing Jeffries to spot their activities), probably due to the hot, sweltering atmosphere, and you really feel that atmosphere in this movie. It really does feel hot, and it sometimes looks painful for Jeffries.

The heat rises not only in the weather, but in the drama as well, and Hitchcock's slow-paced thrills mixed in with his insane, brilliant attention to detail results in the best kind of suspense. Hitchcock also uses a very inventive, influential shooting style by making use of its claustrophobic, small setting, with tons of close-up shots and fascinating looks at both suspicious and innocent activity. The fact that Jeffries feels human and real (as does all of the other characters) is only one of the many reasons as to why this film works on every level. There's also a brilliant, very intense climax, and the final shot is just pure great. As I said, go into this film only knowing what I told you, because it's certain that you'll enjoy the film more. That fact applies to not only this film, but practically all suspense films (because that's pretty much the point of these kinds of movies).

Rear Window is undeniably influential and is one of those movies that has had a huge legacy on just about every mystery movie after this, and it's really no wonder as to why this is considered one of Hitchcock's best in his collection. I wouldn't be surprised if you've heard about this premise many times prior to watching this, but that just shows how mimicked this film is, but never matched. Legacy aside, because you've probably heard it more times than once, Rear Window is pure intensity for two hours, and it's more than likely that you'll be on the edge of your seat for the whole ride.

Le samouraï
Le samouraï(1967)

Le Samourai is nothing short of a masterpiece. I can't believe that it took me this long to actually get around seeing this movie- and when it began, I couldn't take my eyes off of it. This is certainly one of the coolest movies I've ever seen. The director, Jean-Pierre Melville, executes every little detail perfectly and so intricately that it hurts. Every little frame adds up to something significant in the movie, and without the intricate framing, the movie wouldn't have quite nearly the same atmosphere. Everything is so perfectly executed, that it demands several viewings, and even then, Melville's amazing direction would still be able to sustain suspense, even though you would know how everything would play out. I wouldn't be surprised if this was an inspiration (in fact, I'm almost certain it is) to many future noir films, with its cold, mostly silent main character, its intricate, cool atmosphere and visuals, and its thoughtful, tense plot. One thing's for sure, however, that this movie is a lot better than many of the noir films of our time.

Le Samourai has an interesting concept. It's about a professional assassin named Jef Costello (Alain Delon) who's hired to kill a nightclub owner by the orders of his boss. As Jef carries out the killing of the nightclub owner successfully, the police begin to investigate the case and rounds up suspects to figure out who the killer was, with Jef being one of them. That's the basic premise, and that's all I'll say because this is a film that's better not knowing much about to enjoy it. The strongest aspect behind the magic of this film is Alain Delon's character as Jef Costello, and he is incredibly cool. Jef is a lone wolf, and is a man of few words. He takes his job professionally and seriously, constantly attempting to conceal himself from the public, and using meticulous methods to carry out his job. He's expressionless and lonely, and always wears a fedora and a coat around. Alain Delon portrays him beautifully and perfectly, and he is a man of solitude here. Although some of his motivations are not revealed to the audience, as well as other plot elements, it's really up to the audience to figure out a few things and tie a few ends. Perhaps he chooses to be alone, or his nature leads to his loneliness- it's unclear, but we know that he's a self-sufficient man that knows how to almost never get caught. Alain Delon is probably the most important part of this film, and without his screen presence, the film would be nowhere near as remarkable, even with all the superb technical aspects and extraordinary narrative.

Beyond Alain Delon, Le Samourai still has tons of depth. The story is very thoughtful and extremely tense and suspenseful, making full use of its concept. Some parts of it are rather ambiguous, which was something I wasn't quite expecting, but I was fine with. In fact, I thought it made the film a little more interesting and showed that the audience doesn't need every detail to have a reasoning behind it. When it comes to the detailing of the film, it is perfect. There are lots of quiet scenes with perfect framing, such as smoke blowing out of a cigarette or Jef Costello slightly turning his hat as he leaves his apartment, and it results in odd, yet incredible interest in the film. There are even some subtle details that don't really add up to anything, but they're fascinating to notice and show Melville's attention to detail clearly. There's minimal dialogue, and it's only spoken when it's necessary, adding an interesting sense of melancholy. The atmosphere is perfect, and it's so good that it's hard to explain it. Aside from the atmosphere and detailing, the supporting cast is great, and two people that come to mind are Cathy Rosier and Francois Perier. I found the relationship between Cathy's character, Valerie, and Jeff Costello to be an interesting and mysterious one, and Francois's role as a police inspector added lots of tensity to the film. I can't forget the soundtrack by Francois de Roubaix either, and it's very memorable, especially the title theme.

Le Samourai is simply an experience that must be seen to be believed. It's an extraordinary film that I probably won't see anything similar to for a while. Everything is so perfectly executed that it hurts. Despite its incredible style and atmosphere that drags you into the film and doesn't let go, Le Samourai manages to go beyond the fedoras and coats and manages to create a thoughtful, very suspenseful story. It's odd to think that Alain Delon's role as a heartless assassin is awesome to watch, but he was such a fascinating character with such style that it's hard not to think he is. I loved every second of this movie, whether it's the opening that sets up the somber tone of the film from the beginning, or if it's the perfect framing of subtle details. Le Samourai is a brilliant noir that begs to be seen again, and I surely will, because personally, I think this is one of those rare films that is so different and brilliant from lots of the others of its genre, that it deserves a lot more attention. Le Samourai is so perfectly made that it's hard not to appreciate it.

The Man With the Iron Fists

The Man With the Iron Fists is RZA's, the leader of the Wu Tang Clan rap group, directorial debut and first leading role, and he starts it off with an odd, over-the-top homage to the kung-fu genre. This movie is about China's "Jungle Village", where the town's blacksmith (RZA) is forced to create deadly weapons for the prospering, savage clans of the village, and these clans are in the midst of a war over gold. The blacksmith must defend himself and his fellow villagers along with a British soldier named Jack Knife (Russel Crowe) who arrives in a brothel, as well as a warrior named Zen-Yi (Rick Yune). This is a hard film to review because it's easy to see what RZA's intentions were, but his execution doesn't quite match up to his ideas, resulting in a very messy kung-fu movie, with lots of questionable moments and elements that left me confused as to what is intentional and what isn't, as well as lots, and lots of blood.

Don't bother with the plotline nor the acting. The plotline is incredibly stupid and I don't even really get why RZA even bothered to make a plot in the first place, especially when he tried to focus mostly on the action. The acting isn't anything impressive either, and RZA as the Blacksmith never really changes emotion at any point of the movie, even when a character important to him dies, but he's decent enough. Russell Crowe as Jack Knife really didn't work here, and his dialogue was atrocious. His introduction in the brothel was cringe worthy, as were the many scenes where he was with prostitutes. I could barely stand those scenes because they were so poorly written and awkwardly filmed, and he was below average here, although he has one or two cool moments throughout the movie, as well as the fact that he has a rotating gun/knife. My favorite character is probably Rick Yune's Zen-Yi, and he was a man of few words, yet his armor, look, and personality spoke loudly. He was really cool and enjoyable, and I think he should've been in the film more. I also really liked the "villain" called Brass Body (David Bautista), and he was awesome since whenever and wherever he got hit, that part of the body would turn into brass and shield himself.

The preposterous action here is full of bizarre things, and people are flying everywhere, blood spurts out comically, and everything is over-the-top and nonsensical. It defies logic and physics, and that's particularly what made the concept of this sort of action sound so enjoyable, and although at times it's a real beauty to watch (especially lots of the action during the final fight scene), it's somewhat obnoxious. The opening scene is unimpressive and it gave me low hopes that the movie would rise anywhere above its current state. The opening action scene is mindless and overly ridiculous, and I literally got a headache watching it. Of course, thankfully, the movie did improve gradually as time went on, but it takes a very long time to even become a mildly good movie, and it's a frustrating experience before the final fight.

Not even the final fight is anything spectacular, but it's hard to not call it "special", in the way that there are lots of interesting and unique features about it. It's similar to lots of the action sequences earlier in the movie, but I felt like they put more effort into that scene to make it more beautiful to look at. There's an obvious overload of CGI in order for RZA to achieve what he wanted to, and some of the CGI in the finale looked great, yet other parts looked unimpressive. For example, there's this small part where Rick Yune's character, Zen-Yi, slices multiple people with a sword in slow-motion and the blood makes this really cool "brush" effect, and I loved that small, but fascinating part. Yet, there's other scenes that don't look all too impressive, including the final confrontation with Brass Body, and although that scene was enjoyable, the CGI looked ridiculous and a little effortless.

I actually really liked the music here, whether it was the background music that accompanied lots of the more slower scenes that didn't pack quite the punch, or if it's RZA's rap music. I'm not a fan of rap music, and I've only listened to a couple Wu Tang Clan songs, but RZA's rapping oddly fit well. It felt out of place in the way that it had no association with the historical context or the location, but it felt like it deserved to be there, similar to Quentin Tarantino's usage of rap music in Django Unchained. It's weird to think rap music would fit in a scenario like this, but it did. I also like the other background music that I unfortunately can't find, and it ranges from calming to absolutely cool, especially when it accompanies the fight scenes. The film also generally looks beautiful- that is, except from the actual fights- when it comes to set design, costumes, and cinematography. It was really nice to look at, and there was lots of detail put into that kind of stuff.

The main problem with this movie is the idea of being self-aware. I can't tell what's intentional and unintentional, and I don't know if lots of the flaws such as the acting, the dialogue, and the story were intentionally bad to replicate the kung-fu genre's frequently cheesy, ridiculous movies, or not. There's really not enough tension to take this movie seriously, nor is there enough humor to take this film enjoyably. There's obvious attempts at dark humor frequently, especially whenever someone gets decapitated and blood spurts everywhere, or a situation similar to that, but it really doesn't work. You can tell RZA tried to use a style reminiscent to Tarantino's, such as the Kill Bill movies, with over-the-top, ridiculous action, yet RZA misses the mark. I'm not surprised that Eli Roth is involved here, especially with his love of blood and gore, and this seemed like his kind of movie with all these body parts flying around. As I previously mentioned, I could definitely see what RZA had in mind with this one and what his intentions were, which was paying homage to the kung-fu genre in the most over-the-top style possible, yet the execution doesn't quite reach the potential. It really doesn't sound as enjoyable as you would think it would be, and even if you're a fan of highly-stylized, bloody violence, you'd have to be able to get through choppy and messy editing.

The Man With the Iron Fists isn't a horrible movie and I admittedly had some mild fun every once in a while, and RZA did an OK job at a directorial debut. It's really not hard to see what he was going for, but everything doesn't live up to that potential. The acting ranges from downright bad to downright cool, the plot is non-existent, and the action is often disappointingly ugly to look at, despite some pretty awesome stuff every once in a while. Even with all these flaws, it looks like everyone involved is having a blast, and I really wouldn't be surprised if this movie becomes a future cult classic of some sort. It's a messy film indeed, and I would most likely never revisit this movie again, but RZA's attempt at resembling someone like Tarantino's over-the-top, enjoyable style is mostly cloudy, with a few rays of sunshine every once in a while. It's hard to review a film like this because it seems like it's intentionally trying to be cheesy as it's paying homage to the kung-fu genre, but that doesn't mean that I exactly enjoyed what I was seeing. The Man With the Iron Fists is a weird movie, and it's often messy like most of its inspirations were, but it was still an interesting attempt.

Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now is the greatest war film ever made, and no other film comes close to this one. I couldn't believe my eyes during this weird, haunting trip, and although it's a long one, I forgot reality existed and I was absorbed into the depressing, frightening life of horror of Martin Sheen's character's, Captain Willard, life living in the Vietnam war. This is probably what seems like Francis Ford Coppola's last true great film in his career, and it doesn't seem like he ever really reached the heights of his previous, groundbreaking career again that resulted in some of the greatest films ever made, from the Godfather to this. This is a disturbing, scary, intense, and very sad journey through the absolute chaos and horrors of war, and I was no less than riveted by the end of the movie, although some may be thrown off by its deliberate pacing. If anything, I actually thought the deliberate pace added to the experience, and it gave you a better picture of the scenario by really introducing you to the madness of the lives of these soldiers.

It may be unfair to compare this film to Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, but they do share the same general message regarding the chaos of war. Full Metal Jacket is perhaps far more accessible and rewarding, and it highlights more of the comradery of soldiers during the Vietnam war. However, Apocalypse Now (at least in my opinion) has far more depth and highlights more on the psychological aspect of the soldiers' experience through the horrors of war. Don't get me wrong, Full Metal Jacket is still a superb movie, but I don't quite feel like it has as much depth as Apocalypse Now. While Full Metal Jacket had humor and some light-hearted moments, Apocalypse Now is purely a descent into the darkness and madness of war, and it doesn't attempt to sugarcoat any of the brutality, and it adds a bucket load of symbolism and profoundness on top of it.

I've heard many complaints of the film having absolutely no plot, but I'm perplexed by that remark, and sure, Apocalypse Now is not as plot-driven as it is character-driven, but the experiences Captain Willard faces are the result of the mission he is given. It still does have a progressing plot, though, and it's about Captain Willard (Martin Sheen), who is assigned on a dangerous mission into a Cambodian jungle to find and kill Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who is rumored to have gone insane and turned into a warlord, now commanding his own set of troops inside the jungle. Willard is also accompanied by a crew of young soldiers, including a young Laurence Fishburne. The film takes place during the Vietnam war, and as I said, it highlights Willard's psychological experience more than the plot, but it still progresses. I was on the edge of my seat for the whole movie purely because of how mysterious the scenario was, and what motivated Kurtz to become the man he is rumored to currently be.

The acting is phenomenal stuff here, especially Martin Sheen as the leading role. Martin supposedly got a heart attack during the filming, and Marlon Brando was overweight so they had to cover that fact by using a "shadow" effect on his body. Martin also improvised a scene a few minutes after the opening where he punches a mirror to portray the struggles of his character, and his hand was bleeding. Yet, both of these things show Martin's commitment to this role, and he was powerful here. He nails down the psychological aspect of soldiers during the war perfectly. Marlon Brando is perfect and very peculiar here as well, and I don't want to spoil anything about his character, but he seriously shows how profound of an actor he is here. Robert Duvall also makes an appearance as Captain Kilgore, and he evoked both emotions of fear and odd laughter, and he also said one of the film's most famous lines, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning!". Harrison Ford makes a small appearance as the man who gives Willard the mission, as well as Dennis Hopper, who's a reporter, which were both great.

After the riveting opening scene with The Door's song "The End", there is a conversation about the task that Harrison Ford is giving to Willard, and although it feels somewhat relaxed, it gives the viewer of an idea of what's to come ahead, and all of it still feels unsettling. It becomes far more unsettling than that, almost beyond comprehension, and it is a pure descent into the intensity and horrors of war. There are two kids of intensity and suspense- there's the high-octane, fast-paced intensity and suspense, and there's the slow-building, chilling type of intensity and suspense. The latter is used here, and very effectively, making for some of the most terrifying moments I've ever seen in a movie. It is very bleak and dark, and at times it's heart-wrenching and gut-wrenching. The finale is one of the best I've seen in a film, and I'm not really sure why I hear lots of complaints about the final confrontation during the last half hour. It does change the pace and the mood of the film, and it is strange, but it still packs such a punch of terror that it's hard to deny the stunning quality of it.

Even the whole film itself looks stunning, and it's evident that a large budget was put into this movie, whether it's the effects or the overall cinematography, and both are very impressive. They're perfectly used to encapsulate the bleakness and darkness of the war, and it's hard not to be affected by them. It's not quite as disturbing when it comes to gore then when it comes to the psychology of the characters, but the experiences are emotionally powerful and equally as gut-wrenching as a bucket of carnage and gore. It's thought-provoking material, and its sheer scope as a war film helps the emotional effects become more haunting and ugly (despite a stunning and impressive style, that is). Its style is unconventional and daunting, and it's hard to look at times, yet it's impossible to resist. Even its soundtrack is very eerie and haunting, and its a highlight of the film's style as well. This movie will stay with you for a very long time after watching it, and takes the war concept to a new level in a very different path than most.

There's a ton of symbolism in the film too, especially in the last half hour. It may confuse some, because those last thirty minutes are odd and surreal stuff, but if you look a little deeper and put your full attention, you'll easily understand the sheer power and significance of the scenes. There's lots of fog throughout the journey on the river they're travelling on, and they represent the alienation of Willard and his crew as they're heading towards an unknown territory where the mysterious Colonel Kurtz is supposedly prospering, adding a true sense of fear to both the soldiers and the audience. The river is almost a metaphor on itself of their journey and their experiences leading towards the peculiar Kurtz, and the last few shots of the film are some of the best ever put to screen. Without spoiling, they represent so many things that it would take a long time to list it all. You realize so much by the end of the film, and it is pure insanity for its whole entirety. In no way did I see this movie as a pro-war film, and it's the complete opposite.

Hollywood needs to make more movies like this, but unfortunately it's not too often that a movie as profound and sophisticated as this comes out, at least in wide-release. This is the highest tier of filmmaking, and it's nothing short of one of the greatest films I've ever seen, as well as the greatest war film I've seen. I haven't seen the Redux version yet, which is a longer version, and I'm skeptical that it may become dragged and it may take away from the quality of the film, but I'm still going to watch it anyways. Francis Ford Coppola is a genius, and this is one of his greatest achievements. It's gotten even better with age, and its poetic beauty is just as effective. It certainly deserves every bit of respect as one of the greatest movies ever made, and leaving this film at least not a little affected is practically impossible. Apocalypse Now is definitely one of the most extraordinary achievements of American cinema.


Appaloosa is a nice try at the western genre, but it's not particularly interesting for its two hour run time, and not even such an aesthetic, good-looking setting and a great cast makes this film a recommendable western. I felt no tension whatsoever throughout the movie, and even worse, the film tries to also focus on a love triangle, and considering the film does a poor job at making this romance anything interesting, everything becomes an overall tedious, boring experience. Even if it does have all the visuals necessary to meet the western setting "standard" for movies, for some odd reason that I can't exactly pin down, Appaloosa really doesn't feel much like a movie at all, and more like a TV movie. It's a shame, considering westerns are my favorite genre, yet this movie ultimately feels like a let-down and wasted potential for being one of the next big modern westerns and the revival of a once huge genre. Yet, despite these flaws, I can still respect this movie.

Appaloosa is about a rancher who's terrorizing the small town of Appaloosa, New Mexico, named Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons). After some lawmen head over to his ranch to try to arrest him and his gang for previous crimes, Randall shoots both of them, and the town decides to hire two lawmen, Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his deputy, Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortenson) to protect the town and take down Randall. Along the way, a woman named Allison (Renee Zellweger) arrives in town, and Virgil starts a relationship with her. Appaloosa has some good to average acting, but Ed Harris, Viggo Mortenson, and Jeremy Irons are fairly impressive. Ed and Viggo have some decent chemistry, although nothing special, but they're likable leads and they help drive this film a little. I also really liked Jeremy Irons here, and at first he seemed miscast, but as time grew, I found him to be a more adequate villain. He's not as menacing or cold-blooded as he should've been, but he was an interesting character enough. The one character I really didn't like at all was Renee Zellweger, and she really has no purpose at all other than to take away from the main story and the other interesting characters. Her performance is clumsy and boring, and not convincing as a romantic interest whatsoever. Her romantic subplot takes up at least half of the film, and it's not even slightly interesting, especially when her acting comes off as awkward. Ed Harris showed some good emotion, at least, yet it left me thinking what his character found so appealing about her.

Thankfully, in between the romance is, of course, the main plot regarding Randall Bragg. Hopefully it can make up for the romantic flaws, right? Not really, and although it's more compelling than the romance, it lacks any tension or suspense whatsoever. There are long stretches in these bits that drags to boredom, where nothing much happens at all. Don't get me wrong, I can enjoy a deliberate, slow paced movie such as Once Upon a Time in the West, but the reason why I loved that movie is because it was actually captivating. I like a good silence that builds up tension in a western, and those silences practically defined the genre. However, here, these silences add up to nothing except dragged on scenes without any suspense. Not even the actual shootouts are good, and they feel bland, as well as there being a very few amount of them. It's not like I need a shootout every second or something, but if you're going to have a shootout, either add tension or make them entertaining. Even the finale suffers, and it's a very anti-climatic resolution. Logically, it makes sense, but the way it was executed was dull and made me yearn for more. Admittedly, some of the dialogue was actually really good, it's just that the problems lie in the execution.

Appaloosa is an unsatisfying western that I had high hopes for, but I was let down. It feels cluttered and messy, and it really could've been a lot better. It started off as a film I really wanted to see, but gradually, it became worse and worse until the unsatisfying climax. I really wanted to like this movie, but I didn't at all, although it isn't completely devoid of good. Despite some good performances, some good dialogue, and decent chemistry, there really isn't much else to be offered. It's a standard western with a straightforward plot, and I like westerns with those kind of plots, it's just that it was worse than your average because of all these flaws that bring it down. It has the ideas down, just not the execution. Appaloosa is a bad western that falls very short of a solid one, and it really could've been a lot better. I still respect it for trying, though.

Return of the Dragon (The Way of the Dragon)

The Way of the Dragon, or The Return of the Dragon, is a martial arts film starring the legendary Bruce Lee once again, and is surprisingly directed and written by him as well. I actually didn't know that he directed and wrote this movie until the end credits, and it's a very good first attempt. After proving to be a huge star, it's clear that he learned from his previous two films, Fists of Fury (The Big Boss) and Fist of Fury (The Chinese Connection), and it's quite hard to actually notice that he directed this movie at all. It wasn't until Enter the Dragon that Bruce would be a well-known Hollywood actor, but his first and only attempt at directing his own martial arts movie in Hong Kong proved to be a great success, and I really enjoyed this movie. With awesome martial arts fights and some humor (although I'm not exactly sure if some of the humor was intentional or not), it's no wonder why Bruce was able to show off his physical abilities so well.

The Way of the Dragon concerns Bruce Lee's character, Tang Lung, travelling to Rome from Hong Kong to help protect some friends and relatives from the local mafia terrorizing their restaurant. At first, they underestimate Tang's martial arts skills and his power, but as time goes on, they realize that he's the one that will protect the fate of their business. It's a fairly simple and straight-forward story, but it's executed very well. The story is never taken too seriously, and it's a very enjoyable, fairly lighthearted experience, with quite a bit of humor. Bruce Lee's slapstick style in this movie is similar to the slapstick style of some of Jackie Chan's movies, although I couldn't tell if some of the humor in the movie was intentional or unintentional, with oddly hilarious comic-relief mob members and some silly dialogue, as well as lots, and lots of camp throughout. Either way, I liked what I was seeing. Although in Bruce's previous movies, he was a mostly serious character with philosophical motives and an overall darker tone, this movie seemed to show the slightly different side of him, with a more lighthearted story and character. I really liked the setting here, and it was a different setting then most martial arts movies, although his low budget limitations didn't seem to quite express his vision of what he wanted portrayed here. Although Bruce as a director is a very good directorial debut and it's hard to tell that he actually directed it (which is quite an achievement for a first-time job), at a few times it's not very hard to notice that he had some inexperience behind the camera, but it's still very safe to say that he did a great job.

The action sequences don't really start until about twenty minutes in, but when they do, they are very impressive and are just as good as what you would expect from Bruce. However, before the action kicks in, you get a lot of setting up of the situation that unfolds for his character, and it's still very interesting and well-made, helping this movie (and his other movies) rise beyond your typical movie, boasting a lot more depth than your average. Moving on to the action, it really is spectacular. Expect Bruce Lee to whip out his nunchucks once again, although I personally think his use of them during Fist of Fury was better. It flows very well and it's very fun and easily enjoyable, as well as being extremely well-choreographed, and considering some fights occupy quite a lot of time, it's non-stop enjoyment. However, the best fight in the movie is almost undeniably the classic final fight scene with Bruce Lee vs Chuck Norris. It's an awesome fight, probably one of my favorite fight scenes ever. On a side note, I also noticed that whenever Chuck Norris appeared, Ennio Morricone's score from Once Upon a Time in the West played, which was an interesting yet very weird addition to the movie that I didn't expect. I guess Bruce is a fan of Leone, as well. The side cast is fine as well, but my favorite is Ping-Ao Wei who plays one of the mob boss's assistants, and he is adds a lot of humor, and he's pretty crazy as well. He also appeared in Fist of Fury, and I loved his role in both movies. This movie truly is epic and very enjoyable, especially the final fight, and is an awesome ride from start to finish.

The Way of the Dragon is one of the best martial arts movies available (as are all of Bruce's movies), and it's a spectacular watch. Though often filled with odd yet hilarious camp, and some intentionally hilarious slapstick as well, The Way of the Dragon is a straightforward, yet very enjoyable movie with incredibly well-choreographed action sequences and more depth than your typical action movie. Being Bruce's directorial debut, you can feel his inexperience behind the camera at times, but to this day, it still remains an impressive debut. It's a shame that this is his only directed movie, but what's even more of a shame is Bruce's unfortunate death. You can only imagine as to how far Bruce would've gone in his career, but even then, his legacy remains. Though flawed, Way of the Dragon is still one incredible ride.


9 is a mixed bag, and it's a hard film for me to review. I'm not exactly sure as to whether I liked it or not, but I wish I did. 9 benefits from being one of the few actually original, creative animated movies in our generation, and if there's one thing I got out of this film, it's the superb ideas and the animation. Although it's imagination is in the right place, sometimes a movie needs a little more than that. I'm not exactly sure, but something about this movie felt off, although some things occasionally got under my skin. However, it seems like 9 is too dark and violent for children, so I doubt this movie would appeal to them, but I also think that it's not mature enough for older audiences. It's a weird experience, but even then, I somewhat recommend this movie because of how creative and original it is in the awakening of constant, redundant animated movies nowadays, even if I'm giving this a below average, mediocre rating.

9 is about a post-apocalyptic world where all humans are dead except one scientist, who's soul has been transferred into 9 ragdolls he created. The scientists releases them into this destroyed landscape to survive, but the last one, 9, awakens later then the rest of the dolls. 9 is the main character of this film, and as he gradually meets the other ragdolls, 2 is abducted and 9 must convince the leader of this society, 1, to stop hiding from these terrifying machines and to actually confront and attack them. Getting this first part out of the way, the animation is truly wonderful. There's plenty of attention to detail in this world, and it's a beautifully dark, terrifying world that they live in. There's always a sense of dread and darkness, and you certainly feel the atmosphere effectively through the brilliant animation. I love how the ragdolls look, and each of them have different personalities, although some weren't as distinguishable as others. At times, I really just paused the movie just to look at all the intricate detail put into this darkly beautiful post-apocalyptic world. It was a creepy, yet visually stunning world, and you can really tell a lot of effort was put into this world, as well as the movie as a whole. It's, at times, a somewhat immersive movie, though its highest point is the first ten minutes.

The first ten minutes are mostly mute and it shows our main character, 9, travelling throughout this terrifying world in order to survive and thrive, eventually meeting the other ragdolls. The whole 70 minutes of this movie should've been silent, because the silence was very effective for these first ten minutes. Unfortunately, once 9 meets another ragdoll named 2, they start talking, and that's where the film goes downhill. I would've really preferred if they didn't talk at all, and although the voice acting was fine, it would've been overall better if the ragdolls remained silent. Additionally, it doesn't help that the dialogue that the characters spoke wasn't any good, and it came off as cliche and boring. None of the narrative elements, including the story, were very complex at all, and I can't exactly tell who the target audience of the film was. I doubt it would appeal to kids, and I doubt it would appeal to adults, either. Even at a very short 70 minutes, it felt overlong, but that's because a small concept from a short film was stretched thin until boredom. By the end of the movie, I felt like I really didn't get anything out of the movie, and that's really disappointing considering this premise and world are very rare in a generation like ours, where animated movies with no creativity whatsoever are thrown at every week. That leads me to my next point, the ending. The ending felt very schmaltzy and dull, though I won't spoil it. Everything about this film other than the world felt shallow and disjointed, and many of the storytelling decisions were in the wrong direction.

9 should've been a truly spectacular experience, but unfortunately doesn't go very far with its premise, and ends up as a shallow experience. There's no denying that it's a visual experience with a brilliantly crafted world, and if you decide to watch this movie, watch it mainly for the atmosphere and the world. Everything else, from the dialogue to the storytelling, feels disjointed and ultimately amateur. I can still respect this film, however, for being such a noble and creative attempt at being a distinguishable animated film in the midst of all these redundant family ones, although it falls very flat from being a huge standout of those. 9 is still better than many of those films, and is still impressive, but I wish it was taken in a different route. 9 is a visual wonder, but every other aspect of the film is disappointing.

The Men Who Stare at Goats

The Men Who Stare at Goats is supposedly based on a true story and has a one-of-a-kind cast of George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, and Kevin Spacey. Prior to watching this movie with the knowledge of just knowing that it has this kind of cast got me intrigued, and the bizarre plot was even more intriguing. Unfortunately, the end result isn't anything very special and is fairly disappointing, and although its entertaining (at least for the first half) and quite absurd, it's silly to a fault and before I even realized it, the movie began heading towards nowhere, blankly. I wanted to like this movie, but lots of the elements barely worked for me. Grant Heslov is known for producing and writing some of George Clooney's other films, but here, he takes the director helm, and he doesn't quite succeed. It left me wondering what the result would be like had a more experienced director taken the helm.

The Men Who Stare at Goats has a very absurd and strange plot regarding a reporter named Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) that joins the army during the Iraq War, but he meets another soldier named Lyn Cassady (George Clooney) that is part of a peaceful group led by Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) that uses paranormal powers, such as invisibility and mind controlling, to try and win the war, called the New Earth Army. The backstory is mainly told through flashbacks, and the progressing story is about Bob and Lyn's misadventures in Iraq. At first, I initially really liked this movie and found its absurdity hilarious, accompanied by some great performances by its great cast, but unfortunately, half way through, it becomes ridiculous to a fault and the jokes wear off, making the result a messy film heading towards nowhere.

It's a huge shame because it had lots of potential going for it, and although it's entertaining at parts and it's an enjoyable ride at times, it eventually becomes strangely overlong and uninteresting at even at a short runtime of ninety minutes. It mostly feels like a light-hearted movie, but the humor is actually quite dark at times, even though it's still a breezy fare. The performances were pretty good, and my favorite was George Clooney who looked like he was having a lot of fun. In fact, it looked like the whole cast were enjoying themselves, which was nice to see because it showed that the actors cared about the material they were participating in. Ewan McGregor nailed down his American accent well even though he's Scottish, and he's definitely good as a journalist and his acting is smooth and entertaining. Jeff Bridges is also enjoyable, especially with some of the most ridiculous lines in the movie (considering he's the leader of this crazy group), and he's a hippie who approaches peace instead of violence. Kevin Spacey is good as well, but I felt like he was under-used and a little wasted, but he fit his role.

The problem is not the acting, rather it's the one-joke premise that is stretched too long, even at a short runtime of even ninety minutes, as I previously said. The first half is truly enjoyable, and it echoes the Coen brothers' style, even if it was sometimes stupid and it was sometimes silly to a fault. It's entertaining at the beginning and I (as well as Bob Wilton, the journalist) was invested in Lyn Cassady's bizarre backstory as a "Jedi Warrior" (as they're called). Unfortunately, I couldn't quite keep up with Bob's amount of interest in the story because it got tedious and I could tell that the writers were trying to sustain the amount of laughs throughout and that they were putting effort, but it just becomes really bland and uninteresting. The jokes become less funny, the pacing becomes more uneven, and the film can't decide what it is, whether it's a comedy, a drama, or a mockumentary.

The last act is where the film clearly loses its touch and it becomes apparent that the film's premise has worn off. It relies on a gimmicky conclusion and resolution in order to conclude the story, and I have a feeling that the writers may have thought that the situation fell into the same category of comedy as the other jokes during the first half, but it ultimately feels lazy. Without spoiling, it feels rushed, and before the actual act it shows them planning it, and it's a mess. It really just destroys the originality of the film.The Men Who Stare at Goats also wants to be a satire, and I guess as far as that goes, it's decently effective. It tries to satirize the US intelligence as well as the military by using a story about "super soldiers" and "physic powers", and I guess you could say it's amusing at it. It's in the middle of a military dramedy and a satire, and at that, it does a decent job (that is, until it spirals towards nowhere).

Grant Heslov doesn't seem like a bad director to begin with, and although his end result is a disappointing mixed bag, I feel like as time goes on, he'll improve and gain more experience. At times it felt exactly like a Coen brothers movie, but at other times, it felt like it was trying to be, which hurt the film. Instead of enjoying yourself and laughing at such a bizarre, strange situation, you're left wondering what happened and how everything went wrong when the first half was initially so good and effective, and you're left scratching your head. The last act just isn't all too funny, and although it isn't quite a "borefest", I was just sort of confused as to how much worse it got. The Men Who Stare at Goats is a nice effort, but it's also a stupid effort as well, and it could've been a lot better considering how much talent was involved. Still, it's worth a watch, and you may find some fun here and there.

The Searchers

The Searchers is one of the greatest American westerns, if not, one of the greatest westerns I've seen, and it really fell nowhere short of my expectations. It's not my favorite western, nor is this my idea of the "definitive western", as that would go to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, which is also my favorite movie, but even then, this is such an impressive milestone in cinema that it's very hard not to praise. There was a lot of hype surrounding this movie, including being AFI's #1 western and #12th best movie of all time, as well as influencing some of the best directors of all time. It has been mentioned non-stop by directors who were influenced by it everywhere since 1956, and it would take quite a while to even begin as to how iconic and influential this film is, even if you don't quite notice it in future movies. Prior to watching this movie, I expected an overrated, underwhelming western, but my eyes were glued from the very beginning all the way to the last shot. Although not being an action-packed, fast-paced western, The Searchers manages to never be dull, and it's a very exciting western. It's a complex, symbolically significant movie, yet it still finds tons of room for enjoyment. It may not appeal to modern audiences as much, although don't let this put you off, because even if it is slower than most movies today, you should still give it a try then assess it just because of the scope and epicness of this movie, and you may find room for enjoyment here.

The Searchers is about an ex-Confederate soldier named Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) who returns to his brother's cabin in the west three years after the end of the war. Shortly after his arrival, his neighbor's cattle are stolen, and Ethan as well as a group of rangers follows the trail only to learn that the Comanche tribe of Indians only lead them along the trail so they could destroy his family. Most of the family is dead, although his niece Debbie and her older sister Lucy are abducted, and Ethan and his group of rangers must locate the Comanches who captured them. It's mostly a hunting story as they try and find this tribe, and it isn't a thrill-ride or anything, but it's a very compelling and interesting story, as well as being a story that benefits from lots of deep ideas. In a majority of westerns, the main lead is a usually tough, albeit likable and cool gunslinger, yet here, Ethan played by John Wayne is a sort of anti-hero. You still want him to succeed in his hunt, yet his actions and attitudes toward the situation are dark and strong. He obviously has a lot of prejudice towards morality, as well as Indians. Ethan has hatred towards the Indians, despite knowing their lore and language well. He's a bitter character, but he's not a complete monster.

It's hard to go in depth into his character without spoiling the movie, and that's something I definitely don't want to do, considering this is a movie to be experienced fully. John Wayne plays him powerfully and greatly, and it's not hard to understand as to why he's one of the biggest faces of the western genre. The rest of the cast is very good as well, with Jeffrey Hunter being the second most recognizable of the movie. He seems to have been dismissed by many as an annoying character, but I thought he fit the role as Martin, who is a young man that eventually gains a stronger relationship with Ethan as the hunt goes on, very well. It was interesting to see his character transform from a whiny young man to a grown man, and he's sort of like a "sidekick" to Ethan. The rest of the cast is great, and there's definitely a lot of unexpected humor through some of the characters that I ended up laughing quite a bit at. There are plenty of themes, including family and community, through these characters, and it adds up to lots of unexpected lighthearted and charming moments, as well.

The Searchers is also, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. John Ford clearly knows how to make use of gorgeous cinematography to enhance the quality of his film, and even if it's mostly just a desert, it's filmed in such a unique and aesthetically pleasing style that it's hard to take your eyes off of it. John Ford used the Mountain Valley desert in Utah for the scenery in this movie, and it became such an iconic landscape thanks to his movies that the valley is now considered one of the definitive visions of the west. This must've been his favorite location, considering many of his westerns take place in this setting, and the environment depicts humanity at both psychological levels of our nature and physical levels. At a few rare times in the movie, The Searchers switches to a temporary snowbound setting, and I really wished they included more of that setting. I unfortunately haven't come across all too many snow westerns yet, and Sergio Corbucci's The Great Silence proved that snow westerns really are the best kind of westerns. I've yet to see Robert Redford's Jeremiah Johnson, but I'm excited to see that movie purely for the reason that it's a snow western.

Expect lots of widescreen, panoramic shots of these beautiful landscapes, as opposed to a director such as Sergio Leone, who's style consists of having both close-ups and widescreen shots. There aren't many close-up shots in this movie, but they come along every often when necessary. Towards the ending of the film when the finale happens, some of the shots are mind-blowing. I'm not exactly sure as to how they approached them, and they were very impressive. Most of the shots have great significance to both the narrative and the look of the movie, and not a single shot is wasted. The opening and closing shots are some of the most iconic western shots I've seen, and I've seen and heard about them multiple times prior to watching this movie. If a movie can succeed in using cinematography to express emotion and symbolism, it's clear that the movie is a well-made, thoughtful one. The scenery of a western is a very important aspect, and here, it's no doubt that John Ford succeeded in this aspect far above average. Even if you don't like this movie, it really is hard to deny the beauty that comes along with it.

A very important aspect that has been brought up many times regarding this movie and has led to some controversy is the theme of racial prejudice. The Indians here are depicted as cold-blooded savages who have no heart, and the depiction seems to reinforce the idea of offensive racist stereotypes, especially in the frontier. However, it's important to remember that this film is not a racist one, and that it's the characters that are racist. If anything, this is almost an anti-racist film. In 1956, it was probably common for viewers of this movie to actually accept the harsh view of the Indians depicted here, as opposed to today where we're exposed to the idea of racism and a majority of us know the devastating and consequential effects of it. This movie actually highlights those effects, and Ford actually knew that Ethan's morals regarding the Indians were wrong. He even included one shot near the end that completely reverses the idea of racial prejudice here, and it's crazy to think that a single shot could reverse such a controversial issue about the film, but it truly does. In a way, one of the main conflicts here is about Ethan trying to overcome his hatred towards the Indians. I really don't think that the Indians' society was portrayed any more cruel or bloodthirsty than the whites here, and it's a very thoughtful approach about its characters' racist remarks. Basically, on the outside, it appears as a racist film, but really, if you look a little deeper into the film, it's actually the complete opposite. It really was a bold move for Ford to cast John Wayne as such a complex, somewhat controversial character, but it really does pay off.

The Searchers was a lot rougher and grittier than most westerns of its time, and although it often has lighthearted themes and even some funny, unexpected humor, it was a bold western of its time. It's actually a complex one, though even with all these in-depth ideas regarding the purpose John Ford had in mind with this film, it's also definitely one of the most exciting westerns I've seen. It truly is a landmark of a film, and I think it perfectly meets the very high expectations that I had, as well as the huge reputation it has gained since 1956. It's really no wonder why it's such a famous and influential film, and it truly is an enjoyable film from start to finish. You also can't leave out that it's a beauty to look at, and is definitely one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. The more and more I talk about this movie, the more I appreciate it as art, and that's really the biggest achievement a film can gain. Although still not my favorite western as I previously mentioned, the fact that I'm talking about this movie just shows what kind of film it is, and it surely is probably the best American western I've come across so far. This is no film to dismiss as another mindless one, and John Ford, whatever his true purpose was, more than likely reached it and went far beyond it, as well. The Searchers is definitely a landmark in cinema, and I won't be forgetting the experience I had with this one for quite a while. The Searchers is definitely a must-see by all means, and it's more than likely that you won't regret it.


Sleeper is a decent attempt by Woody Allen at satirical slapstick comedy, and it although it isn't entirely successful and sometimes borders the line between irritating and funny, it goes by quickly and it's a fun, simple ride. It's one of those movies where the first half, even if flawed, is the superior half of the two, and from there on it goes downhill, but it's still enjoyable. It's a ridiculous and bizarrely funny movie, if to a fault, and its premise alone will probably make you chuckle. The comedy genre is filled to the brim with unfunny, incoherent movies, and when a comedy is done right, it can completely reverse how you feel and brighten up your day, but Sleeper is just in the middle. I was laughing at the first half and I felt like this was top-notch humor, but about half way through, the non-stop jokes slow down a little and the film loses steam to make way for Diane Keaton's astonishingly irritating character that bogs down the film at a pretty huge rate, at least for me. Even then, it's not like the second half was anything remarkably bad, it's just that I wish it retained some of the same escapism humor that the first half stood out with.

Sleeper has a truly bizarre premise that is hard to resist. Sleeper is about a man named Miles Monroe (Woody Allen) who enters the hospital for an operation in 1973. However, the procedure goes wrong and he wakes up nearly 200 years later by a group of scientists, finding himself in a dystopia that resembles George Orwell's "1984". Based on that premise alone, it's impossible to expect anything other than a ridiculous and absurd comedy, and when it comes to craziness regarding the humor, it delivers. It's a very silly movie, and it's full of slapstick and one liners reminiscent to silent films' slapstick comedy. If that's not your cup of tea, I doubt you would find much enjoyment here, because the film mostly relies on that kind of stuff. You don't quite realize that it's a comedy until a few minutes in after the futuristic scientists uncover Woody's body from the past, and right when his goofy face appears, it's clear that this film will be a very silly one. Woody is great and hilarious here, and he has this odd charm that's very hard to resist. Lots of his one liners are uproariously hilarious, and his facial expressions are comedic gold. The thing about both his direction and his performance here are they're so simple, yet they allow the humor to flow so nicely, quickly going from one joke to another, never too fast nor never too slow.

What I found interesting about the futuristic world that Woody portrayed here was the fact that it was like a satirical, very silly version of a dystopian fantasy, and it never takes it seriously. It draws a wide range of ideas from dystopian sci-fi, including 1984 by George Orwell, but rather than making the attempt of reflecting it seriously, it makes fun of it and makes light of a scenario like that. The whole film is like an homage to dystopian fantasies and silent comedies (although there are lots of one liners, that is), and the end result is not extremely complex by any means, but it's a small scale, pretty funny comedy. I really liked the visuals here, and they were interesting to look at, especially all of the aspects regarding how Woody would imagine a scenario like this to be like. It has this strange aura of cheesiness, yet it's really fascinating and fun to look at, combing sci-fi design elements from movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, with all of the white set designs that manage to have a lot to say. I also really liked how the servants looked like (Woody Allen's impression of them is on the poster), and they were very funny, especially when at a certain point they start malfunctioning and they bump into walls, and I chuckled.

The main problem is the fact that about half way through, Diane Keaton's character is introduced, and for a majority of the film she isn't very likable, which is a big problem. I'm not sure why, since this doesn't exactly have to do with her character, but after she was introduced, the humor surrounding her, such as the humor by Woody Allen, oddly become less funny. Throughout the film, there's this somewhat annoying clarinet music that plays over the slapstick, and it's pretty distracting if you ask me. It often becomes loud and obnoxious rather than adding to the comedic element of the movie, and that's a problem. I'm not a huge fan of slapstick, but when it's done right, it's very funny. For example, lots of the slapstick near the beginning such as the introductory scenes of Woody are downright hilarious, yet overtime, they become somewhat redundant and irritating, rather than silly, yet funny and enjoyable. It often steps away from its central concept and in a way becomes uninteresting, especially as some elements are handled poorly, such as the "Underground" organization, yet it doesn't really matter because it's a simple comedy that's main intention is to tickle your funny bone.

Sleeper is a hard film to "hate", mainly because the good outweighs the bad. It's not perfect, and it doesn't need to be, and even if I had some pretty big problems with the movie, it's hard to deny the enjoyment I got from this movie. It goes by quickly, it's straight to the point with both its ideas regarding its concept as well as its humor, and it's an overall exciting experience. At times, the jokes are hit-and-miss, and some jokes I really didn't find all too funny, but its humor like Rags the dog and the jetpack slapstick that makes everything forgivable. It works as enjoyable escapism humor (even if that aspect mostly applies to the first hour), and it's clear that Woody Allen is an intelligent director with both his examination of society as well as his sometimes thoughtful humor, even if most of the humor in this movie is silly. To me, Sleeper is no masterpiece, but it's fast paced and it's an enjoyable experience that's hard to resist.

Point Break
Point Break(1991)

Point Break is an incredible action thriller that is so much better than most of its kind produced by Hollywood. It's often too silly and campy for its own good for the first half, but right when the second half begins, it picks up and really becomes something amazing. Point Break is about an FBI Agent named Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) who goes undercover to take down a group of surfers suspected of robbing banks. These four robbers wear rubber masks and call themselves the "Ex-Presidents", with masks of Reagen, Nixon, Carter, and Jonhson. Jonny Utah is partnered up with Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey) to investigate the surfers and uncover the robbers' identities. As Jonny is on the trail of the suspected surfers, he's mixed up with a surfer named Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), and he's therefore drawn into the idea of surfing and adrenaline.

The first half of this movie is troublesome, with lots of camp and odd (but quotable) dialogue. It's the sort of entertaining camp, and although it's sometimes too silly for its own good, I was still interested in what was going on. However, the quality of the second half came out of nowhere, and from the very first minute of the second half to the very last minute of the movie, Point Break really became something amazing. It starts to pick up and becomes unexplainably intense and adrenaline-filled, and it was a very unexpected path that the movie took. If the whole movie was like the second half, Point Break would be perfect. That doesn't mean the first half was bad whatsoever, it was just a little cheesy, and I didn't expect the film to really go anywhere. The acting ranges from fine to great, with Keanu Reeves being a tad monotone as Jonny Utah, but still has a very engaging and cool performance, and I loved his character. Near the beginning I was worried that his character wouldn't be a very diverse or interesting one, but as his relationships grew with other characters, his acting really did become more intense and likable. Gary Busey as his partner, Angelo Pappas is pretty crazy, but his performance is probably the least insane thing in this movie, but that just means everything else is absolutely crazy. Patrick Swayze as Bodhi is my favorite part of this movie. He's almost mesmerizing, and he's like the Zen-master of surfing. There's so much I could say about his role and he's played brilliantly, even riveting at times.

However, don't get me wrong- this isn't some sort of profound, extremely intelligent movie, as it does stick to its roots as a thrilling action movie. There's lots of action here, and whenever there's action, it's nothing short of breathtaking. The bank robberies are very well filmed and are very intense, and there's even a skydiving scene which is insanely well made. The surfing, although sometimes a little cheesy, is great and you can tell that lots of effort was put into these action sequences, making for unforgettable, very impressive scenes. They're so much better than most blockbuster action sequences, and they feel authentic. But the most breathtaking aspects of this film in my opinion are two things- the chase scene between Johnny Utah and the bank robbers, and the climax. The chase scene is one of the best I've ever seen in a movie, and has some of the most excitement and intensity of the whole film. I liked the climax even more, and without spoiling anything, it actually has a lot of emotion. The second half of the movie is really that impressive, and I forgot about all the flaws through the first half, as well as all of the camp that plagued the movie. Everything from the camera work and editing to the action and the acting (particularly Patrick Swayze) is near flawless, and it was a big surprise to see all of this from a movie that I didn't expect much from.

Point Break's impressive thrills still hold up to today, and it's hard to explain exactly why everything works or why I like it. Even if the first half is a little corny and weird, it's hard to take your eyes off of it, but the second half is amazing. The catchphrase of the movie is "100% pure adrenaline", and it's very close to that. I've heard that a remake is in the works, which is a shame and exactly shows Hollywood's tendency to constantly rely on sequels and remakes, and I really don't see how they could add or change anything from the original and improve it. That being said, Point Break is a flawed, but still impressive action movie that had some of the best thrills I've seen in a long time.

Hang 'em High

After the success of the Dollars trilogy, Clint Eastwood become a western icon and was given tons of roles in western movies. Hang 'Em High was the first western he starred in outside of the Italian western business, and although Clint Eastwood is still as cool as ever, everything besides his role in this movie is a bit dull and seems to ramble on, heading nowhere. It definitely doesn't reach the heights of the Dollars trilogy, but that's not really even a fair comparison to make so if you're planning to watch this and you're expecting something close to the quality of it, don't bother. Hang 'Em High is pretty mediocre and standard as far as westerns go, and starts off nicely but goes downhill from there, up to the anticlimactic ending that I didn't really care all too much for. It's not a cliched western, bringing up some interesting ideas about the law, but it's too drawn out and sloppily made to reach any of its potential.

Hang 'Em High is about an innocent rancher and ex-lawman named Jed Cooper (Clint Eastwood) who is moving a small herd of cattle, but a group of nine men ride up to him and accuse him of killing the original owner of the cattle and stealing them. Jed tries to defend himself from the accusations, but the men refuse to believe him, and attempt to lynch him. Jed survives the lynching, and a marshal finds him, giving him the opportunity to serve the law and to attempt to bring the men who lynched him to justice. The plot focuses not only on Jed's revenge on the men, but also on the importance of law and order. Clint Eastwood is as cool as ever, and instead of playing a vigilante, he's a sort of anti-vigilante. He's still tough, but his role is more sensitive than his previous western roles, considering he takes the more lawful approach at ending crime. The rest of the cast is fine as well, although some of the acting is bad. A few scenes that come to mind are when people are getting beaten up, but the fights seem very awkward and fake, which was common in lots of movies around this time. The scenery is nice, and the main theme song by Dominic Frontiere is terrific. However, everything besides that is pretty dull and mediocre, and the way the story is told is too sloppy to care about what's really going on.

It's definitely a different western than lots of the westerns being released at the time, focusing a lot on the law and justice, but the pacing is bad and the significance of characters is questionable. The ending is bad, with a very anticlimactic confrontation and an abrupt conclusion to the story. It really left more to be desired, and it feels like they were planning on a sequel of some sort. Although the opening scene sets up the situation nicely and got me interested, it unfortunately goes downhill from there until it ultimately becomes a boring, bland attempt at a distinctive western. I do appreciate that this isn't just any revenge story, and at least tries to be distinctive. In terms of entertainment, you probably won't find it here, and it feels unnecessarily long. There's also this unnecessary romance between Jed Cooper and a woman named Rachel (Inger Stevens) that doesn't add much value to the film, and ends up taking lots of time that should've been spent on something else. It feels like it was there only to fit some sort of requirement regarding romance that lots of Hollywood movies have.

Everything about this movie sort of feels more like a TV movie than an actual movie, which is a shame. That being said, Hang 'Em High is not a bad movie, but it's no masterpiece by any means. Hang 'Em High is a bit of a disappointment, and everything besides Clint Eastwood is uninteresting and ultimately bland. It does bring some great questions and ideas up about what's right and what's wrong regarding the law, and it does have its moments of good. Just don't expect high entertainment and fun, because the sloppy storytelling gets in the way of it, although Clint Eastwood's presence makes it watchable alone. In my opinion, it's probably his worst western that I've seen so far (although I've yet to see Two Mules for Sister Sara). It falls pretty short of a solid western, and although Hang 'Em High didn't hurt Clint Eastwood's career by any means, the cons that overshadow the pros keep it from being one of his classics.


Deliverance is nothing short of a breathtaking movie, and it's probably most remembered for its "squeal like a pig" scene and sadly, not for its brilliant suspense and powerful themes. It's a very unsettling film that starts off like an upbeat, peaceful, and somewhat light-hearted journey of four friends bonding on a trip and having fun, but later takes a turn as they are conflicted with trouble. It's not what you would call a "fun" movie, as it has elements of horror even thrown into it, and the environment is unsettling and gruelling. Although at times it does feel like a horror movie, it's more of a realistic situation of conflicts rather than what an actual horror movie feels like, where the villain is running around killing people. This is a film that haunted me for days, with scenes that I won't forget anytime soon.

Deliverance is more of a character study then a film with a progressing plot, although it does build off of its premise. Deliverance is about four "adventurers" taking a canoeing trip down a river in Georgia- Ed Gentry (Jon Voight), Lewis Medlock (Burt Reynolds), Bobby Trippe (Ned Beatty), and Drew Ballinger (Ronny Cox)- before a dam project ruins the river. They were expecting a simple, exciting trip but their journey takes a turn for the worse as they encounter dangerous and troublesome situations, leading to a nightmarish survival story. All the characters here are diverse and very convincing. Lewis is the sort of person who doesn't exactly care about the risks of canoeing, and sympathizes the fate of the river that they're canoeing in. He comes across as the guy who's "one with nature". Ed seems like the more nervous, mature guy who is overly cautious and wants to make sure that everything is fine, as opposed to Lewis who's taking the risk without considering any of the dangers. Bobby is the sort of guy who's reluctant to be obedient, and is the most out of shape of the group. Lastly, Drew resembles a childlike, kind personality, especially as he carries his guitar around and participates in an upbeat "duelling banjo" scene with a mute, inbred boy during the first few minutes, and considering the fact that he always has a grin on his face.

As these four adventurers head to a small town before embarking on a trip, they are warned that they're foolish people for participating in such a journey, especially as they're travelling on an uncharted section of the river. However, for the first few minutes of the film before they really embark on their trip, the environment and atmosphere feels somewhat peaceful and happy. The adventurers joke around and they are somewhat ignorant towards the locals at the town, but Drew goes on a "duelling banjo" encounter with a boy, and it really is an exciting scene. It's very fun and happy to watch, but in a way, the scene masks what's eventually coming. It gives you a sense of hope and happiness, before the conflicts occur and take down your spirit, but it also shows Drew as a character as well. The whole scene feels very ominous, and that the whole film can't be this light-hearted. Apart from that, there really isn't much music in this film, and the film often benefits from that as oddly, it gains more tension, especially with the constant background noises of water flowing and birds chirping. The film also looks great, with beautiful scenery of gorgeous forests and rivers, but John Boorman, the director, shows that even landscapes as beautiful as these, can turn out to be very hostile and dangerous areas.

As the film progresses and our main leads start their journey, for about a day, everything goes well and successfully. They're bonding for the day, and the relationships between the characters are more apparent. However, the film's tone changes in the blink of an eye as the dawn of the new day begins, and then the famous "squeal like a pig" rape scene happens. This scene is actually terrifying and disturbing because it's something that can actually happen, and rather than unrealistic horror films where someone is running around with a chainsaw killing everyone in sight or something like that, this is a more realistic approach at a hostile territory. There are lots of close up shots in the scene, making it more than terrifying enough. In fact, I found many scenes in this movie to be excruciating and hard to watch, but effective to say the least. The themes of this movie are brilliant, and very powerfully portrayed, even poetically. The violence is there for a reason, and its symbolic significance shows a lot about humanity. Although the main characters are ignorant, they didn't do many hostile acts to provoke the locals in the town to really deserve a fate like that, but they, in a way, do represent civilization destroying the local way of life. They represent humans' dominance of nature, and their mistake is the fact that the group assumes that they're in control. It just shows that the wilderness isn't full of romantics and heroic adventurers, but dangerous, hostile people. Everything about the movie perfectly reflects human nature, as well as the complex, powerful theme of man vs nature.

Deliverance is a terrific, haunting thriller that is deliberately paced, but if you can cope with it, you'll be rewarded with a brilliant, absolutely unforgettable survival story. I won't be forgetting the "duelling banjos" scene or the "squeal like a pig" scene anytime soon, but more importantly, I won't be forgetting Deliverance's symbolic significance anytime soon, either. It's a nightmarish trip that starts off as a seemingly simple, peaceful bonding story of canoeing, but ends up as an intense, ugly (with a beautiful visual style, that is) thriller. The performances are convincing, the atmosphere is gruelling, and everything about the film feels unsettling. Although it's more of a character study then a movie with a progressing plot, it's a very effective one, with these four leads stuck in a disturbing situation and are trying to find their way out. Deliverance is an amazing movie, and is just as unnerving as it probably was in the '70s. Deliverance is a true masterpiece, and is an absolute must see.


Dredd is Hollywood's second attempt at adapting the Judge Dredd comic to film, and I must admit that I'm not very familiar with the comics that this movie is based on, nor have I watched the supposedly so-bad-it's-good Judge Dredd movie from 1995 starring Sylvester Stallone. Therefore, I have no position regarding how faithful this movie is to the source material, but even as a person who's not familiar with the universe, I still found myself having some fun with this flawed, albeit entertaining movie. It's a shame to know that there won't be another chapter in this series considering this movie failed at the box office, where it only made about $36 million on a $45 million budget. Right from the start of the movie, you know what you're going to expect- lots of stylized action, little story except the small premise that it builds off of, and minor buildup. What I didn't expect was the amount of gore, which looked cartoonish, but I can't complain all too much. It almost felt like a Robocop remake, which is a movie I love, with a similar main character who's main motive is to bring justice.

Dredd has a simple premise, and it's not very original, but it does make use of it effectively. Dredd is about the future America, which is a waste land called Mega City One. Mega City One is a corrupt, chaotic city where criminals rule the streets, especially with the powerful drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), who is mass-producing a dangerous drug that makes the drug user feel as if everything was in slow motion. The only judgement is brought by the cops known as "Judges", and Dredd (Karl Urban) is the main judge here. He teams up with the rookie Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) to go on a drug-busting mission in the main building of Ma-Ma's gang. So technically, there's nothing much else to the story then a gritty drug-bust, but that's all it really needs. Expect lots of violence here, and if you can get past some relatively nasty sights, you'll probably have some fun with this movie. It's sporadically bloody and gory, so don't expect anything even close to family-friendly. For the most part, its pretty fun stuff, but at times it does wear out a little and becomes a little repetitive. Near the end, it becomes very redundant and gratuitous, which I found myself a little frustrated about. It looks very cartoonish and unrealistic, but that wasn't a problem for me because although it made the film look like a video game, it had this unexplainable retro-feeling that made the movie more entertaining. Basically, it's not for the squeamish.

Karl Urban's character is emotionless and doesn't have much else to do other than shoot bad guys and spit out one-liners every so often. But I guess that's what makes his character such an entertaining and cool one. He keeps his helmet on for the whole movie, which in a way, gives him a quiet, monotone, but awesome personality. He has no questioning of any sort, and manages to bring justice to criminals in the coolest way possible. The rest of the cast is nice, although some of the dialogue by some of the gang members was a little stupid. One thing I didn't like about Dredd's partner, Cassandra Anderson, was the fact that she had this odd mind-reading ability, which seemed out of place and a bit ridiculous. I felt like it was a plot device that ultimately had no purpose, but she was acted well. Ma-Ma is a pretty messed up person, but effectively, making her a good, yet simple villain. The special effects are inconsistent and sometimes look innovative and nice, but at other times, it looks low-budget and a bit awkward. For the most part, however, they're quite impressive. The slow-motion drug aspect of the movie also suffered from some inconsistency, and sometimes it really looked beautiful and awesome, yet at other times, it was unnecessary and overused. This is pretty much just a movie where you turn your brain off and enjoy what's on the screen, and it delivers for the most part.

Dredd is nowhere near a masterpiece (at least for me), but it does deliver as an entertaining, stylized 100 minute drug-bust, and it does have some pretty big problems every once in a while, but it remains an impressive action movie. It sucks that a sequel won't be made, because I'd love to see the faceless, cool Dredd character on screen again, but it looks like that won't be happening again for a while. The comics sound interesting, and if the movie is similar to the comics in terms of entertainment value, then I might just give it a shot. It's a dark, gritty, ugly movie (with a nice visual style), so if you can stomach the sometimes gratuitous violence, you will undoubtedly find yourself having fun with this movie. A bit mindless, but I can't deny that it was an exciting ride. Dredd is, for the most part, a successful action movie that is worth the ride.

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers is yet another adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel, and director Paul W.S. Anderson attempts to update it for the modern audience here, but he fails miserably. At least it's a nice visual experience, even if everything looks way too artificial, but it's too bad that everything around the look of the movie is absolutely horrendous. The acting (particularly by Logan Lerman) is some of the worst acting I've seen in a while, the writing is cliched and dumb, and the attempts at humor made me cringe, but the action is alright as well. I must admit that I wasn't bored while watching this movie, but I wasn't exactly entertained either. This is yet another disposable action movie by Hollywood that tries to modernize the tale too much and loses the heart in the process, therefore failing to reinvent the story for the new audience.

The Three Musketeers is the classic story about a young man named D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) who joins forces with the three Musketeers- Aramis (Matthew MacFadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), and Athos (Luke Evans)- to battle against Richlieu (Christoph Waltz) and Milady (Milla Jovovich). Lots of the story is loosely based off of the original. The problem with this movie is the fact that it chooses the predictable, cliched route that plagues most modern movie adaptations today, rather than the simple tale of friendship that the original story is, transforming it into a bloated, stupid action movie. I feel like they make a reboot of the novel for every generation, and now, it's inevitable to have an exciting, but believable, adventure movie, considering that nearly every one of those now are filled to the brim with excessive, unnecessary CGI. I'm not saying it has to be "realistic", it just shouldn't be so ridiculous with an overload of special effects. It's way overproduced, but the visuals are probably the best part of this movie. It really does look gorgeous, with great set pieces, costumes, and places that feel alive- it's a shame that they feel so artificial. Paul W.S. Anderson just directs the movie in such a dull way, as if we've seen it hundreds of times before. There isn't much else in terms of storytelling, so after the continuous action scenes and dumb lines by the characters, I got pretty fed up. The action sequences are alright, with some action scenes being ridiculous but mildly entertaining, but with others just being a headache.

Paul uses lots of slow motion as if it was used for filler purposes, and it's distracting as it gets in the way. It's apparent that he's trying to use a different kind of style in his movies to tell something new and original, but he just films it in such a boring way that it just crumbles in front of the viewer- at least they're well choreographed. From the first few minutes it came to my attention that this movie doesn't take itself seriously, which doesn't seem like a bad thing, until you hear what kind of humor this movie has to offer. It's unfunny and childish, and it comes across as a failed attempt at making the movie exciting and enjoyable. The worst part about this movie is the acting and the script, and some roles are fine, while others are far below average. The two most annoying roles in this movie were Logan Lerman as the arrogant D'Artagnan and Freddie Fox as King Louis XIII, who have the tendency to let out incredibly cliched, mindless lines. Logan is supposed to be a young romantic in search of adventure, but he just comes off as awful. Every line he lets out seems unnatural and forced, and it becomes apparent that he's the kind of character that the modern audience is supposed to link with. Freddie tries to add humor, but he's such an awkward and ridiculous character that comes off as cringe worthy writing. There are some ups in the acting, though, with the three Musketeers being alright, and Mads Mikkelsen and Christoph Waltz doing a decent job. They're both great actors, but the problem is that they're not given that much interesting material.

Admittedly, I had some minor fun with this movie, and although I wasn't ever "bored" during the movie thanks to its mildly entertaining action sequences and its bloated, but good looking special effects, I eventually got fed up with what I was seeing. Everything felt so artificial and conventional, and, as I said, it seems like they attempt to update the Three Musketeers tale for every generation. All these different cliches muddle the already predictable storyline, and if they at least made a bigger effort to deliver something new and adventurous without being bloated and over produced, this movie could've been an actually good movie. It's too bad that we'll never really get too many movies like that now. The Three Musketeers is a failed adaptation of the classic tale, and Paul W.S. Anderson can't properly reinvent the story without having the tendency to please the modern audience.

Winchester '73

Winchester '73 is James Stewart's first western collaboration with director Anthony Mann, and it's one of the most engaging and fun westerns I've seen in a while. Winchester '73 is about Lin McAdam (James Stewart) and his friend named High-Spade (Millard Mitchell) arriving in Dodge City for a shooting contest where the prize is an extremely valuable, "One of a Thousand" Winchester rifle. Lin comes across a man named Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally) who he's familiar with, but right when they're about to shoot down each other, they realize that they gave their guns to marshal Wyatt Earp (Will Geer) for protection upon entering the town. After Lin wins the rifle in the contest while focusing on competing against Brown, Brown steals the rifle and sets out across the desert, leading to the rifle itself and Lin going on a journey to get it back. Along the way, several other characters are introduced, including a man named Steve Miller (Charles Drake), his fiancee named Shelly Winters (Lola Manners), and a sociopath named Waco Johnny Dean (Dan Duryea).

This is a very clever western, and throughout the movie, the rifle is put into several different hands. I won't spoil anything, but the climax of this movie is fantastic, and although it takes a little time for the journey to pick up, when it does, it really is quite a ride. The acting is great, especially by James Stewart and surprisingly, another actor named Dan Duryea. Unfortunately, James Stewart isn't in the movie as much as I really wanted him to be, considering I'm certain that some characters get nearly (if not, just as much) screen time as him. However, when he is on screen, he's very likable. He seems like an actor that's fit for westerns and roles like this. His role is pretty psychological, and his constant terror and outbreaks of emotion created lots of intensity. Dan Duryea plays a murderous sociopath named Waco Johnny Dean, and I found him to be very enjoyable in the role. The pacing is very fast, and there's quite a bit of action, including a saloon fight, shoot outs, and Indian wars. One aspect I liked about this movie is the fact that they never really tell you why there's a conflict between Lin McAdam and Dutch Henry Brown at the beginning of the movie and in the contest until near the end, and I was very surprised by the reasoning.

The story is very well told, even if it isn't exactly what you would call "riveting", but I was never less than fully engaged. I was hooked one from the first second to the last, although some things did take me out of the film every once in a while. First of all, I didn't really like how the Native Americans were portrayed in this movie, and I found it to be somewhat offensive. Although that's how they were technically treated back during the Old West, I'm not sure if that's a reason to justify it. Also, as I stated a little earlier, James Stewart is only in the movie for about half the time, and a few characters get just as much screen time (without James being on screen). It was a little frustrating, and I didn't find those parts as interesting, but I was still engaged. Another problem is the fact that everything is so coincidental, as if everything in this Old West setting was specifically in a certain place where the story could move along quicker. The West was a pretty big place, and constantly running into things conveniently for the story to continue was a little odd. Anyways, at this point I feel like I'm nit-picking, so if you can get past these small flaws, Winchester '73 will be a very intense, yet fun and interesting western.

Although Winchester '73 is not exactly a remembered western for James Stewart, I found it to be an excellent, intense western that never slowed down. A few small flaws got in the way but they're pretty much just nit-picks (although the way the Natives were treated was uncalled for), and I wish James Stewart had more screen time, but everything else was told perfectly. Very worth watching, and it goes by very fast. I wished it lasted longer, considering the ride I had with this movie was a lot more entertaining than expected. What I also found somewhat interesting was the fact that they included Wyatt Earp for a while during the great opening, and although the portrayal doesn't seem exactly accurate, it was nice to see that small bit of history included. Practically everything in Winchester '73 works well, and it's an overall great western with great themes, and the last few minutes alone let this movie deserve every bit of its classic reputation that it has.


Tombstone is once again a retelling by Hollywood of the legendary Wyatt Earp, this time with great production values and well known actors, including Kurt Russel and Val Kilmer. It's a colorful, exciting, and highly-stylized western that's a lot of fun, but it's also very flawed. It often slips into melodrama, and it really does feel like a Hollywood movie, which is a shame considering the events this movie highlights are really something to be told. At a run time of about two hours, it feels bloated, and there are lots of notable flaws. However, Tombstone is nonetheless worth a watch, especially with big names such as Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer.

Tombstone is about Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) who decides to retire from law enforcement and moves to the growing town known as Tombstone, Arizona, intending to make a living there with a normal life. Along the way, he reunites with his brothers, Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill Paxton), as well as his friend, Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer). They learn that a group of outlaws known as the "Cowboys" are terrorizing the citizens of Tombstone, and now, instead of Wyatt Earp residing in the town with his love interest and living normally, he is caught up in a conflict with the outlaws. The acting for the whole cast is pretty good, but the two actors that caught my eye right from when they were introduced was Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. They carried the movie for me, and without them, this movie probably would've been significantly worse. Kurt Russell is a really likable actor here, and has lots of great development as a character, but Val Kilmer is even better, stealing the show in every scene he's in. He's brilliant in his role and it's a shame that his performance here is not as recognized. He was legendary and he really should've won an Oscar for his performance, but he was overlooked completely. Although there's this really unintentionally funny and over the top scene where Kurt screams "Noooo!", but he and Val really carry this film on their shoulders.

The action is really well filmed and entertaining, as well as being pretty violent, but it's nothing too bad. I would have preferred that the O.K. Corral shoot-out was at the end instead of being replaced by something else, but both sequences were well made. You can tell that the production values of this film were big, with the cast having really over the top facial hair, and the set design looking nice and clean. But that's a problem in its own way, since westerns shouldn't really look "nice" and "clean", and even the dirt here looks pretty. It's highly-stylized and should look a lot more gritty to really capture what the old west was like, similar to what Leone did with his movies. In Leone's movies, everything looked really dusty and dirty, but here, everything is really bright, pretty, and colorful. Anyways, it's not too bothersome, it's just something I wanted to point out. The cinematography is still gorgeous, and the soundtrack is great, and the film as a whole really feels energetic and lively. When they say Tombstone is a growing town, it really does look vibrant and big. However, the film is a little bloated, and everything is interesting and fun except the bad romantic sub-plot. It's a little ridiculous and melodramatic, and I feel like it was under-developed. You're going to get a lot of characters that are under-developed and have little screen time, so they don't leave as much as of an impact on you. Tombstone also has the tendency to incorporate almost every western movie cliche available, and it often feels like you've seen parts of it many times before.

I feel like Tombstone will appeal more to the modern audience than to the old western audience, and the end result is a little underwhelming and ridiculous at times. It's clearly inaccurate in its portrayal of the events that happened, and lots of this movie was altered for entertainment purposes. However, there's no doubt that it's a very cool western, and the best thing out of this movie was Val Kilmer's legendary performance. His performance alone drove this film past its flaws, and is among the best performances I've seen in a western, or any film for that matter. If you can look past Tombstone's flaws, you're rewarded with a very entertaining and cool western, and it's nowhere near the best I've seen, but it's still well worth spending your time checking this out. By the way, "I'm your huckleberry".

Jonah Hex
Jonah Hex(2010)

Jonah Hex should've been an entertaining, fun western but the poor direction and messy style of this movie ruined all potential that it had. It has lots of great ideas, but in the end, none of them work and it seems like the studio had no idea what to do with them, making the end result seem awkward and out of place. Jonah Hex is about a former confederate soldier named Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) who is scarred by the murder of his family by a man named Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), and has a part of his face burned as a mark to remind him of the event. Jonah Hex eventually becomes a bounty hunter and a gunslinger, searching for Quentin, but when Quentin has a plan to destroy the nation, the U.S. government sends Jonah to confront him. Jonah Hex also has a supernatural ability to "talk to the dead" and gain information about things, such as the whereabouts of Quentin.

I'm not very familiar with Jonah Hex as a character, but Jonah is an antihero from DC comics. I don't know about how well he was portrayed in this movie, but I felt like Josh Brolin did a good job here. I liked his makeup over his face, and some of his lines were decent, but apart from that, he was a bit dull. The rest of the acting here is pretty terrible. John Malkovich as the villain, Quentin Turnbull, was awful and miscast, and it looked like he was bored. His character was completely one-dimensional and had no distinguishing, menacing features about him, making him a very dull villain. He was completely wasted, as well as Michael Fassbender. Michael really didn't seem like he had much to do here, and its a shame because I like Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, and Michael Fassbender. I didn't like Megan Fox, however, and every time she appeared on the screen I cringed. She's only here for her looks, but as an actor, she's embarrassing. Her accent was atrocious and annoying, and her presence alone downgraded this movie.

The plot is also terrible, and the potential that the premise had is completely wasted. The structure of this movie feels so broken and rushed, and the style is dull and tedious. It constantly switches from flashback to present time, and its distracting and annoying. There are lots of unintentionally laughable moments, but not at all in the good way. If the plot and acting (for the most part) is bad, the action must be a redeeming factor, considering this movie should be based on it anyways, right? Unfortunately, no- the most important part of this movie, the action, is awful. There are lots of good ideas here, like hidden machine guns on a horse, talking to the dead, or crossbow guns, but they're all put to bad use. There's even some shaky cam here, too. This seemed like it should've been an R-rated movie, but for some reason, it seemed like the studio edited it down to PG-13, and in the process, messed up the movie. I wasn't bored, but I wasn't entertained either, and if this movie was any longer I probably would've just stopped watching it. Thankfully, it's short, at only about 75 minutes. The music here is out of place too- there's heavy metal music in this western.

Virtually everything goes wrong in Jonah Hex- the acting for the most part, except Josh Brolin (who is only decent) is terrible, the dialogue is abysmal, the plot is messily structured, the music is bad, and even the most important thing, the action, is awful. There are barely any redeeming factors in this movie, and it feels incomplete. It felt overlong even at a short run time of 75 minutes, and every second of it felt tedious. It's not among the worst movies I've ever seen or anything, but there's just really nothing recommendable or distinguishable about this western. Jonah Hex is an unmemorable waste of time that fails to deliver any of the entertainment that it should have. Whether you're a fan of the comic or not, please avoid this movie. I think I'll just stop talking about the movie here, because I've already wasted enough time watching it.

The Big Gundown

The Big Gundown is easily one of the best spaghetti westerns, starring two huge stars of the genre, Lee Van Cleef and Tomas Milian. 1966 was a big year for spaghetti westerns, with huge ones such as The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and Django coming out, and The Big Gundown, coming out in the same year, may arguably rank among them. It has all the great elements that we all love about the genre, such as big, exaggerated gunfights and cool characters, but what makes this western outshine most is the fact that the characters become more complex as the plot progresses, and evidently in most westerns, the characters never exactly change from the opening to the end credits, but here, they question their actions and motives and eventually change their ways by the end. I was never less than entertained with such an engaging plot (and a twist as well), and add in an awesome Ennio Morricone score (as always) and amazing cinematography, and you get one of the high ranking movies in the genre.

The Big Gundown is about a lawman named Jonathan Corbett (Lee Van Cleef), who is one of the top lawmen, that is approached by a wealthy capitalist named Brokston (Walter Barnes) to hunt down an outlaw named Cuchillo Sanchez (Thomas Millian) who is wanted by the law for raping and murdering a 12-year old girl. This is pretty much a chase movie, with Lee Van Cleef hunting down Tomas Milian to turn him down, and I had a lot of fun with this movie. Lee Van Cleef, as always, is awesome and although he plays a similar role to his other roles in westerns, its hard to deny how cool he is. Tomas Milian as an outlaw was amusing, and even sometimes surprisingly touching, and although he does overact a little at times, he still does a great job. Even as an antagonist, he's surprisingly likable, and the interplay between him and Lee Van Cleef is what makes this movie worth watching. The supporting cast of the movie was also great. Opening up with a great scene where Jonathan Corbett is challenged by three outlaws, the film assures that its going to be something special- and it surely is. The script for this movie is superb, and its a lot smarter and better flowing than your average spaghetti western, even if it is sometimes too simplistic, but it's impressive for the most part.

My favorite part of this movie would probably be the finale, which benefits greatly from Ennio Morricone's score. Ennio's score is brilliant as always, with amazing music that never fails to match the mood of the movie. In fact, Quentin Tarantino even borrowed some of it for his movie, "Inglourious Basterds", such as Sgt. Donowitz's introduction scene. It's pretty much unanimous that Ennio is the king of spaghetti western music (or music in general, as a matter of fact). The cinematography here is breathtaking, if it's from the great camera angles or the amazing landscapes, which is common in spaghetti westerns. This movie is visually striking, and makes sure that the movie is never close to bland. Sergio Sollima's direction is perfect, and the pacing of this movie is quick and enjoyable without ever being too simplistic or generic. Everything about this movie feels very polished, and although I'm a big fan of the spaghetti western genre, its not so often that you find a movie that feels this refreshing.

The Big Gundown is lots of fun, and uses a quick pace as well as all of the iconic elements of the spaghetti western genre to tell an epic story, but also benefits from the presence of its leads, Lee Van Cleef and Tomas Milian, as well as Sergio Sollima's direction, Ennio Morricone's score, Carlo Carlini's cinematography, and a superb script. I have no idea as to why I haven't seen this film earlier, but maybe that's because this is a somewhat difficult film to access. The Big Gundown is an innovative, essential western for fans of the genre, or maybe even anyone for that matter, and is a lot of fun while simultaneously being a lot more thoughtful than your average spaghetti western. Definitely one of the best spaghetti westerns out there, so if you ever manage to get your hands on this movie, you won't regret spending your time watching this, and the full capabilities of what the genre has to offer are at clear display here.

Man of Steel
Man of Steel(2013)

Superman was always among the most iconic superheros, and is arguably the most beloved and well-known of them all. It's been seven years since our last Superman film adaptation, Superman Returns, which was a lackluster adaptation in my opinion. However, considering the fact that Man of Steel, the newest installment, was in the hands of impressive people like Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan, this film had lots going for it. Did it quite live up to the enormous hype surrounding it? In my opinion, Man of Steel could've been something spectacular, but it feels to rushed, artificial, and mindless to praise this film. Zack Snyder as the director gave too much attention to the action and style rather than the substance and plot, which was a huge problem for this movie. It's nowhere near a terrible superhero movie, but unfortunately, its also nowhere near a spectacular one either, and the latter is what we were hoping for.

As definitive of a superhero Superman was, he never really had all too much depth or complexity, and the many film adaptations that he had never really aged well, and by today's special effects standards, come off as cheesy and even silly. With Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, who were the geniuses behind the success of the Dark Knight trilogy, which brought incredible complexity and emotion to Batman, there was a lot of hope that they could adapt their skills and use it on Superman as well. Man of Steel is about a young boy named Kal-El (Henry Cavill) who is sent to Earth by his parents on the planet known as Krypton, which is near destruction due to its unstable core. After arriving on Earth, Kal-El is raised as the adopted son by Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane), who name him Clark. However, as Clark is trying to fit into society and grows up, Earth is invaded by members of his own race, including the Kryptonian general Zod (Michael Shannon), and Clark, now known as "Superman" must save the world from destruction, and along the way, meets people such as Lois Lane (Amy Adams).

The film opens up with the birth of Kal-El and introduces us to his real parents, Jor-El (Russell Crowe), and Lara Lor-Van (Aleyet Zurer). I liked this opening because it offered a view of the planet of Krypton, such as what their culture and society would look like, which was never really focused on at all. However, right from the beginning, I knew that the film really wouldn't get any worse or any better, and that was a huge worry for me. Unsurprisingly, the film really did stay consistent for most of the movie, and it never blew me away, nor did it bore me. If I had to choose my favorite part about this movie, it would probably be Henry Cavill as Superman, who played a very smooth, enjoyable role. He fit the role perfectly, and if I were to be honest, he was even better than Christopher Reeve in the original Superman movies. The rest of the cast is good as well, with Russell Crowe actually doing a pretty good job at portraying Superman's father. Amy Adams was also good as Lois Lane, a news reporter who meets Superman when he saves her life, and they become closer as the movie progresses. If there was one problem in the cast, it would probably be Michael Shannon as Zod. I love Michael Shannon as an actor, and he is brilliant, but here, I don't think his acting mixed well with the personality of Zod. He was still good, but he was nowhere near as good as he should have been.

The flaws don't stop there, unfortunately. The last thirty or so minutes of this film is just one huge, endless action scene with an excessive amount of explosions and special effects, and it just felt so fake and artificial to me. Whenever a character would get hit, they looked very out of place and ridiculous. It was absolutely mindless, over the top, and redundant, and I couldn't tell what was even going on for half the time. There are also lots of corny lines between Superman and Lois Lane, which lowered this movie even more. Aside from the action, some characters get more character development than others, but for the most part, Superman is well developed. There is also pretty much no humor in the movie, and that wouldn't be a problem had the movie not been so overly-serious. Additionally, the plot feels quite rushed and it often deteriorates into a generic blockbuster. For example, through the flashbacks that show Superman growing up, he often got bullied, and the dialogue in those situations are pretty horrendous. Also, the flashbacks are not told chronologically, and I don't see the significance as to why.

Unfortunately, Man of Steel is an unsuccessful reinvention of the beloved Superman, and it doesn't quite have the complexity that the Dark Knight trilogy gave to Batman, with light character development and rushed plotting, but even worse, mindless, excessive action and special effects, but its nowhere near terrible. For example, I liked the very ending (the scene before the credits came up, not the climax fight), and Hans Zimmer's score was just as good as John Williams' classic score. The score was pretty similar to the Dark Knight trilogy score, and that's exactly what I had been hoping for, setting the tone for many of the scenes perfectly. However, I was never bored by Man of Steel, and I could definitely see why people would love this movie, but it didn't hit the right notes for me, coming off as a more fake and generic blockbuster than a real drama. Overall, Man of Steel is neither awful, nor spectacular.

The Last Man on Earth

The Last Man on Earth is a cult-classic and the first film adaptation of Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend" novel, which was about a post-epidemic world where every human was infected by a plague that made them undead vampire-like creatures. Dr. Robert Morgan, played by Vincent Price, suffers from living a redundant life of hunting vampires at day and locking himself away from them at night. Made with an evidently low budget, The Last Man on Earth is actually a very effective movie, although some awful flaws really take away from this otherwise deep character study. This is a film that not only succeeds as a somber post-apocalyptic scenario, but as a study about loneliness, even if it sometimes passes the line of ridiculous.

The Last Man on Earth has great acting by Vincent Price, even if his acting is a little awkward at times, but for the most part, he did a great job at portraying a lonely man in a frightening, somber world. The atmosphere for this world great, and the first fifteen or so minutes set it up brilliantly, using chilling shots of an empty city. However, the greatness stops there, because once night hits and these infected vampire-like creatures swarm Dr. Morgan's house, the film becomes quite ridiculous and even laughably bad. It took me out of the film considering I was gripped for the first fifteen minutes, but although these creatures are supposed to be weak and unintelligent, the way they were shown was downright bad. The nature of these creatures are also a bit confusing, as they seem more like a mix of a vampire and a zombie. Thankfully, they don't have nearly as much screen time as Vincent Price, who is really the highlighting point of this film.

However, around the middle, a series of flashbacks show how Earth ended up in this current state through the events that led up to it, and unfortunately, supporting characters are introduced and are very unevenly acted, making Vincent Price oddly seem out of place. Lots of the emotional impact that this film could've had is unfortunately lost within the supporting cast's talents, but the flashbacks are interesting enough to forgive the faults. I also oddly feel like Vincent Price's character as Robert Morgan is both deep and one-dimensional, because although many of his scenes show his emptiness and isolation effectively as a person, he doesn't have too many layers to his character. At least he's acted well, and he's probably the best thing to come out of this film. Thankfully, the atmosphere throughout the movie still feels very grim, and there's always a sense that something isn't right. The ending is also great, and confirms that this film really isn't a feel-good one. The Last Man on Earth presents some very good ideas and is well-intentioned, and for the most part, it stays as an interesting, eerie film.

It sounds like I wasn't fond of The Last Man on Earth, but in reality, I did find myself enjoying this film more times than not. It could've been a lot better, yes, and the production isn't the best, but it deserves praise because it's effective, and it works as great entertainment. It's an overall uneven success, and sometimes its a nightmarish world but at other times it borders downright ridiculous, but I'm giving this a positive review because this is recommendable as both an eerie film and great entertainment, although this was close to a negative review. It doesn't dig deep all too far in its narrative, but its an effective and convincing portrayal of a scenario like this. Whether this review makes it sound bad or not, The Last Man on Earth is still worth at least checking out, and I'm glad I didn't dismiss it.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is both easily my favorite western, and my favorite movie of all time. It's the final part of the Dollars trilogy, and in my opinion, the most epic, entertaining, and flat out awesome of the three, and its influence on both western and films in general is still clear today. Usually, trilogies progressively get worse as the series continues, but with the Dollars trilogy, Sergio Leone managed to improve each time. With each film, you can see his direction improve and mature, and by the time he made The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, he was already crowned as one of the kings of the western genre, but he managed to combine all of his talents and created both this movie and the more serious, darker Once Upon a Time in the West, and later, the overlooked Fistful of Dynamite. The western genre is my favorite genre- both spaghetti and American ones-, but my love for the genre all started with the Dollars trilogy. It's an incredibly iconic movie, with both its title and its many different memorable aspects sinking into pop culture and western stereotypes.

One of those stereotypes is The Man With No Name, played by Clint Eastwood, who played the same role for the past two movies, and in my opinion, his role is probably my favorite movie character ever. However, the conflicts that he faces throughout the trilogy are not linked- the only reason this is even considered a trilogy is because they're all directed by Sergio Leone and they star Clint Eastwood. It wasn't Leone's intention to make this a trilogy, but it's referred to as a trilogy for convenience purposes anyways. Here, he played "The Good", who although isn't really a "good" person, is a lot smarter and accurate at shooting than the others in the trio. The next person is The Bad, played by Lee Van Cleef, who is perfect, and his role in this movie and For A Few Dollars more, the predecessor, rose Lee Van to fame. He's ruthless, cold blooded, and chilling, and his facial expressions alone define his personality perfectly. He has a straight, menacing face, and he's always one step ahead. What makes me sad is how overlooked Lee Van Cleef is as an actor, and although for many of the westerns he played in, he did play a somewhat similar role, I feel like he should be more recognized because of how cool he is. Last but not least is The Ugly, played by Eli Wallach, who's is a bandit that is absolutely hilarious and pretty dumb as well, and later forms a sort of bond with The Good. Arguably, he's equal in terms of quality and likability to The Good in this movie. However, if there's one thing that connects these three characters the most, is their greed for the hidden cache of gold.

This trio- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (hence the title) are all rivaling against each other to search for the cache of gold hidden in a graveyard, while caught up in the Civil War. The opening of this film is perfection, introducing the three leads of the movie. However, the part where The Bad interrogates a former soldier has plenty of tension. In fact, Quentin Tarantino even used a similar style for the opening of Inglourious Basterds, where Hans Landa interrogates a French farmer. Later, The Good meets The Ugly, and they participate in a trick where The Ugly, who is a wanted bandit, is turned in by The Good, and right when he's about to get hanged, The Good shoots the rope and he's freed. They keep repeating this tactic to exploit the bounty hunter business, and overtime, they slowly form a bond in the hunt for the gold. The Ugly is hilarious and pretty stupid as well, with tons of awesome quotes. In fact, everyone in this movie has great, memorable quotes that each reflect their personalities. From there on, the plot progresses and the movie becomes more epic by the second, up until the haunting finale, which is probably my favorite movie scene ever.

However, how good would this movie be without Ennio Morricone's score? Ennio, who is my favorite movie composer, has conducted tons of western soundtracks (and movie soundtracks in general) that I all love, but here, I think he topped his music. It's iconic and beautiful, and without it, many scenes wouldn't be anywhere as epic, and would lack lots of the tension that defined the film. His music for this movie pretty much created the stereotype and current imagery of the West. The cinematography is also brilliant, with wide, beautiful shots showcasing the dry, grainy desert landscape, and you can tell that the production values of the film were higher than the first two in the trilogy. That being said, this is not an extremely serious movie, and as I stated previously, there's tons of hilarious humor, especially through the "partnership", which is sort of a love/hate one between The Good and The Ugly. With Once Upon a Time in the West, Leone made a far more gritty, realistic, and dark western, with pretty much no humor but an atmosphere and an insane amount of tension that makes it nearly as good as this movie.

Overall, I could go on forever and ever, praising this film with no limits, but I'm sure you can understand as to why this is my favorite movie of all time. For me, at least, there will never be a movie better than this one, and I love this movie to no end. It's both the definitive western and the definitive spaghetti western, and it's a film that even non-western fans can appreciate. It's influence is to be seen anywhere, even if you don't notice it, and its had a legacy that has barely been matched since. I've watched this film countless times, and upon each viewing, it's just as entertaining as the last time. This is not only the perfection of the western genre, but of movies in general.

Duck, You Sucker (Giù la testa)

A Fistful of Dynamite (or Duck, You Sucker/Once Upon a Time in the Revolution) is a very overlooked spaghetti western by Sergio Leone, and his last one after Once Upon a Time in the West. Although not his best, A Fistful of Dynamite still deserves far more recognition than it currently has, and seems to be overshadowed by all of his other movies. I'm still perplexed as to why no one talks about this movie, and honestly, I think it's in the same league as some of his classics such as A Fistful of Dollars. It's certainly different from Leone's other westerns, but it also certainly still has the Leone spirit. With social and political commentary, as well as action that really does live up to its title, A Fistful of Dynamite is a classic in its own right, as well as a beautiful score (as always) by Ennio Morricone. Add in James Coburn and Rod Steiger, and you get something amazing.

A Fistful of Dynamite takes place in the Mexican revolution, and revolves around the partnership between Rod Steiger's character, Juan Miranda, and James Coburn's character, John Mallory. Juan is a Mexican outlaw who meets up with the Irish explosives expert, John, and attempts to take advantage of his skills to raid the Mesa Verde national bank. As the movie goes on, the raid leads to a far more complex operation regarding a revolutionary cause. It becomes a lot deeper as time goes on, and it even has a lot more unexpected emotion than I thought it would have. However, with lots of the emotional value that this movie had, comes a lot of humor through the partnership between Juan and John. Juan reminded me a lot of Tuco from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and he's very amusing and funny, with even some moments of heart. The second character is John, an explosives expert, who's a different type of "cool" than what is common in most spaghetti westerns. He has a lot of charisma that makes him my favorite part of this movie. Some great scenes from this movie that come to mind are the introduction scene of John Mallory, which was awesome, as well as lots of the "duck, you sucker!" scenes where John ignites his dynamite. Both Rod Steiger and James Coburn are very underrated, and they're a perfect fit for their roles.

Sergio Leone's frequent partner for the score, Ennio Morricone, is at his best as always, and his score is both beautiful and awesome. It's quite off-beat, as well, and even makes the movie feel surreal at times. It adds a lot to the scope of the movie, and is absolutely unforgettable. I especially like the piece called "Invention for John". The music has an unexplainable feeling that's perfect, and is very different from any other score that Ennio has really ever made. In fact, the movie as a whole has an unexplainable feeling, and its one of those movies that come a long every once in a while that just has such a large impact on you. It's an "explosive" movie, and I mean that literally, with its many scenes where things get blown up on a huge scale, but not in the mindless way. The themes that this movie portrays are incredible, such as heavy themes regarding comradery and revolutionary ideas. It definitely is a political/social film, even opening with a quote about the revolution that sets up the concept of the movie. With such heavy messages and such an enjoyable yet emotional and moving atmosphere, this is an experience that must be seen for yourself.

A Fistful of Dynamite, being Leone's last western, combines lots of the elements from his previous movies, and makes an amazing experience. It takes the fun and excitement from movies like the Dollars Trilogy, as well as the epic scope from movies like Once Upon a Time in the West, and throws in some social and political commentary. I have a feeling that this movie would've been a lot more recognized had it been called by its French name, Once Upon a Time in the Revolution. In fact, Leone's first "trilogy" is the Dollars trilogy, which all include westerns with Clint Eastwood, but what many people consider Leone's second trilogy is Once Upon a Time in the West, this movie, and Once Upon a Time in America, which all explore different times in history- the end of the west and the beginning of industry, the Mexican revolution, and the "gangster" era. Although A Fistful of Dynamite certainly doesn't rise above those movies, A Fistful of Dynamite is still an amazing, powerful spaghetti western that left Leone's western legacy on a very high note.

Pom Poko (Heisei tanuki gassen pompoko) (The Raccoon War)

Pom Poko is a nearly forgotten Studio Ghibli film that is not only hilarious and strange, as well as being beautifully animated, but also has a great message about the environment to go along with it. It's very funny, very odd, and sometimes, even very sad and heartwarming, surprisingly, making for an unusual but good animated movie. Before watching Pom Poko, I knew nearly nothing about this movie. I didn't know if it was favored by fans, I didn't know who it was made by- infact, I didn't even know what it was about, other than the fact that it involved raccoons and it was animated by Studio Ghibli. That being said, this was a very unexpected viewing, especially considering the fact that I was sort of expecting a happy, friendly story about raccoons, but what I got in return was a hilariously odd, and even pretty sad story about raccoons, which was a lot more complex and affecting than I thought it would be. It also came to my understanding that the director was Isao Takahata, who was behind the making of Grave of the Fireflies, which is without a doubt a beautiful, haunting masterpiece, but is also without a doubt what is probably the most depressing movie I've ever seen.

The plot is surely an odd one. It follows the lives of a group of raccoons who are trying to prevent the destruction of their forest, which is trying to be turned into a city by humans. However, they have the ability to shape shift and transform their body into something else, leading to the raccoons taking advantage of it to either survive in the cities as humans, trick them, scare them off, or use other methods. It's basically a story of survival, and throughout this journey, you meet many different raccoons with distinct personalities, and by the end, you feel a lot closer to them. With these distinct personalities, Pom Poko has some very odd yet some very funny humor, and its more of a comedy with some serious parts than a serious movie with some humorous parts. It's wacky, random, and strange- but I felt that the usage of the humor here was great, and I found myself laughing a lot more than I thought I would, even if it does go overboard a little at times. It really is beautifully animated and great to look at, with vibrant settings from colorful forests to crowded cities, bringing this movie to life, as well as great music. There are even some extremely trippy parts- look for a scene regarding a parade.

Despite all the fun I had with this movie, Pom Poko is also unexpectedly deeply moving and affecting, making full use of its idea of human interference with nature. The ending is remarkably beautiful and even haunting, and was unbelievably touching. That being said, this is not a perfect movie in my eyes, mainly due to the pacing. It's a little overlong, with some scenes that are a lot longer than they should have been. Some moments are also a little too preachy, and some of the humor did go a little overboard, but that's just me. I don't think this is really a recommendable film to anyone who isn't a fan of Studio Ghibli movies or anime in general. In fact, it's very different from any of the other Studio Ghibli movies, so I wouldn't be surprised if a fan of Studio Ghibli ended up disliking this movie. Despite these rough edges, I still found Pom Poko wonderful and very enjoyable, and it was one of the more unique movies I've seen in recent memory. It's also quite unpredictable, so surprise is a key factor in this movie.

Overall, Pom Poko isn't the best Studio Ghibli movie I've seen, but not knowing much going into this movie made it a lot more unexpected, emotional, and hilarious than I thought it would be. This is truly an experience that must be seen for yourself, filled with charm, imaginative (and odd) visuals, very funny humor, and a message regarding the environment that is portrayed very well, making for a very effective and unforgettable animated movie. Although I wouldn't really recommend this movie to anyone who isn't a fan of Studio Ghibli or anime, this shouldn't be dismissed because of its strangeness, because behind it all, there's a great message to be told.

The Strangers

The Strangers is a movie that hinted at the revival of a terrible genre, the horror genre, but unfortunately joined the huge pile of pointless schlock that keeps on building up with no sign of hope. It had a lot of potential going for it, and with such an interesting premise and an eerie looking atmosphere, I expected a movie that strayed away from the cliches that infected the horror genre, but sadly, it takes a unfortunate nosedive into the territory of generic slashers that follows the same redundant formula over and over again. The Strangers is about a young couple, Kristen and James (played by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman), who spend time in an isolated house together, but are eventually terrorized by three masked, unknown assailants. Although it doesn't sound completely original, I was interested because of the way it could have been executed, such as how the setting looked, as well as the actual intruders themselves, and their creepy masks.

The first thirty minutes or so are decent, building up some tension and suspense through its dark, quiet atmosphere, promising a great movie when the invasion actually begins. However, when the three masked assailants actually come and terrorize the couple, the film slowly takes a downhill turn, mainly due to the fact that nothing particularly interesting or terrifying actually happens, relying on cheap jump scares and lots of unnecessarily drawn out scenes. In fact, The Strangers feels overlong even at the seemingly short run time of ninety minutes, and feels tedious. I could see many of the jump scares coming, and it felt very predictable. Anyhow, what makes this film such a pointless one is the killers' motives. What were they? I still have no idea. There is no explanation as to why the killers are trying to kill the couple, so I guess that they're just sadistic killers, and when the movie ended, I felt like I just wasted time because there was no legitimate reason behind the acts. That leads me to my next problem about the movie- the ending. It felt incredibly stupid and unsatisfying, and seemed as if it was made at the last minute.

I also didn't feel any emotion for the main characters, and despite the fact that they're well acted, they constantly made dumb mistakes that led to their fate. I understand that they were in a state of fear so they wouldn't be functioning as well as someone who wasn't in terror, so I guess that's not a huge problem with the movie. Despite all these terrible, dull aspects that reduce this film into a cliched, disposable slasher flick, there were still some positives about the film. I admired the fact that it relied more on tension and suspense than cheap gore, and a few of the scenes were legitimately frightening. One aspect about the masked group that scared me was the fact that they constantly appeared and disappeared. The performances are convincing as well, even if I didn't find the characters all too likable. The atmosphere is also great, and some scenes have some great atmospheric tension, and my heart was pounding during some moments. Other than that, unfortunately, I didn't take anything else from the film.

It's a shame that The Strangers reduced itself to such a dull slasher movie with all this potential. I could see that first time director Bryan Bertino had a decent idea of scary movie, but I personally don't feel like he executed it properly in the end. It has its moments of great suspense and scares, but the cons outweigh the pros by far. It's nowhere near the worst horror film I've ever seen, but it's more of an average one, and that's not very impressive considering the fact that my least favorite genre is the horror genre. The horror genre has an over abundance of films with no creativity, and although The Strangers had some decent moments, it only raises itself to an average horror film (which isn't saying much, considering the average horror is terrible). This is yet another disposable horror film that could've been special, but ended up taking the easy route and reduced itself to an ultimately dull movie.

Once Upon a Time in the West

Sergio Leone was already the master of westerns with the Dollars trilogy, but with Once Upon a Time in the West, he combined his talents and created a western with depth that has yet to be matched. This is a masterpiece of atmosphere, performances, and slow building tension. The opening scene alone is fifteen minutes long, has barely no dialogue at all, and leads up to a very short shootout. The film is nearly three hours, and there are many scenes where not much happens. However, if you have the patience to appreciate the deliberate pacing, you are rewarded with a brilliant, beautifully crafted western with tons of depth and unforgettable performances and scenes. Obviously, this is a film that requires the ability to cope with long, possibly drawn out scenes that showcase amazingly executed direction.

The first fifteen minutes may be the best opening scene of all time, and the finale is comparable in terms of quality to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The Dollars trilogy is more of a fun, entertaining exercise in the western genre, while Once Upon a Time in the West is an exercise of brilliance on epic scope through its memorable, haunting Ennio Morricone score that adds a sense of mystery and grit, as well as through its overall look and feel.

I get chills every time I watch this movie, and you can definitely tell Sergio Leone took his time to tell a seemingly simple revenge story, and you can tell he did not rush at all. There's also a fantastic plot about a railroad construction that's equally as engaging as the revenge one, and it brings light to the end of the American west and the beginning of a new civilization. Its tone is dark, gloomy, and immersive. Theres a plethora of memorable quotes in this movie, such as "You brought two too many." and "Do you know anything about a guy going around playing the harmonica? He's someone you'd remember. Instead of talking, he plays. And when he better play, he talks." The acting is great from everyone, and the characters portray dark, haunting, mysterious characters. Henry Fonda as Frank may be one of the most memorable villains ever, and Jason Robards as Cheyenne is a likable, clever gunslinger. Claudia Cardinale as Jill really portrays her emotions well.

However, the shining performance in this movie is Charles Bronson as Harmonica, who plays an inscrutable, haunting character, and Charles Bronson was perfect for the role. The cinematography is beautiful, showcasing epic, huge shots of a barren, somber western setting. You can really see Sergio Leone's maturity as a filmmaker improving every film (that's not to say the Dollars trilogy isn't a masterpiece as well). Once Upon a Time in the West is less entertaining than the Dollars trilogy, which I have soft spot for, but this is definitely a rewarding, brilliant film that is definitely one of my favorite films ever.


Predator is one of the few action films that really define "adrenaline", and has some of the best atmospheric tension and suspense I've ever seen in an action movie. It's directed by the same director behind Die Hard 1 and 3, John McTiernan. Rather than jumping straight into action, Predator takes its time to build up tons of suspense and tension, often bordering between sci-fi action and horror. Predator is about a man named Dutch, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who's leading a mission with a special forces team to try and rescue hostages by guerrillas, but gradually becomes aware that an unusual "predator" is hunting them and taking them down one by one. I can't even explain how much adrenaline and suspense there is in this movie, as well as testosterone from tons of muscles and toughness.

Despite the fact that it seems like your average action movie filled with an over abundance of explosions and gore, this is actually a quite smart movie, relying on an exotic, isolated location of a jungle, slow build-up, and a terrifying, iconic villain. It has many silent moments that are both exciting and uncomfortable at the same time, making everything so much more effective. The atmosphere in this movie is astounding, and its location is unique and unbelievably effective. Although lots of the action scenes come in huge bursts, there's more attention given to suspense. You should go into this film not knowing much, because it adds to the excitement of not knowing what's coming next.

Unfortunately, it's not perfect, with some cheesy moments, but all is forgiven thanks to Schwarzenegger's strong, cool performance and the tensity of this movie. It also has a great score and a plethora of quotable one-liners. This film strays away from becoming a generic action movie, and was carefully made with smart decisions. Unsurprisingly, Predator came with a ton of sequels, as well as crossover films with the Alien franchise, known as the Alien vs Predator movies. Predator rightfully deserves its title as a classic, iconic action horror movie.

I Giorni dell'ira (Blood and Grit) (Day of Anger) (Gunlaw) (Days of Wrath)

Day of Anger is a spaghetti western that follows a rather straightforward and typical plot, but is elevated by all the great elements of the genre handled in such an entertaining way. The plot here, which is a somewhat routine story, is practically the Hero's Journey in the old west, where an underdog and a misfit named Scott Mary, played by Giuliano Gemma, finds his opportunity to change his life and become a gunslinger when a man named Talby, played by Lee Van Cleef, rides into the town known as Clifton. Scott is "bullied" in Clifton and is treated like an outcast, but things change when Talby shows him compassion and becomes his mentor in a way.

However, as the plot unfolds, it becomes a tale of two mentors and Scott finding revenge but losing his purity. It's seemingly simple, and for the most part it is, but its backed up by some plot twists and Lee Van Cleef and Giuliano Gemma's intriguing partnership. It's always great to see Lee Van Cleef on screen, and he's so cool that anything he touches is elevated a bunch. He's in top form here, and his role is pretty much on the same level as his others (he's always at his best), such as Colonel Mortimer and The Bad. Giuliano Gemma is charismatic and great as a young man who's an underdog and a misfit in the town, and his duo with Lee Van Cleef is awesome. Giuliano also previously played as Ringo in the Ringo movies (A Pistol for Ringo, The Return of Ringo), and his acting skills really show here. Seeing two of the best actors in the genre working together was great. Riz Ortolani's score is notable, and the theme song is one of the best songs I've heard in the genre. It's energetic and catchy, and fits perfectly in the movie.

It's also incredibly entertaining, and I was never bored with its many creative sequences, such as its climax, as well as the scene where Lee Van Cleef duels someone on horseback with rifles. It's memorable and entertaining, and feels like a genuine western movie, but at the same time feels distinctive. This movie ranks among the best of the genre, thanks to its powerhouse cast, its catchy score, and its seemingly simple plot that turns more complex, and is just as entertaining as some of the high ranking westerns in the genre. It's a must see spaghetti western, and should be a lot more popular than it currently is.

The Mercenary (Il Mercenario) (A Professional Gun)

Sergio Corbucci yet again succeeded in making an absolutely awesome spaghetti western with Il Mercenario, or The Mercenary. It's comparable to Corbucci's later spaghetti Zapata western known as Companeros, which has a similar role from Franco Nero and Jack Palance, as well as from Thomas Milian (who is similar to Tony Musante in this movie). Il Mercenario is set during the Mexican revolution, where a Polish mercenary named Sergei Kowalski (Franco Nero) is hired by a revolutionary peasant named Paco Roman (Tony Musante) in order to bring independence to Mexico.

They form a somewhat love/hate relationship with each other, where although both of them have different morals (Sergei is leaning towards the money, while Paco is leaning towards freedom), they respect and work with each other. Nero is the epitome of cool (after Clint Eastwood, of course), with his smart, witty, anti-hero like traits as a Polish mercenary. Tony Musante as Paco Ramon reminded me of Tuco from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, with his foolish and silly actions, along with his sense of humor, as well as how he teams up with Kowalski (like Tuco did with the Good). Jack Palance as Curly is flat out creepy, with his facial expressions defining his ruthlessness. Giovanni Ralli also does a good job at portraying a woman named Columba, who helps Kowalski and Ramon on their journey. There's tons of action, with machine guns practically destroying battlefields, as well as a fast pace that assures that you won't get bored.

The finale is amazing, and sent chills up my spine with its haunting music and the expressions of the characters by their faces. The soundtrack, which is by Ennio Morricone, is just as amazing as you would expect it to be, and the main song called "L'arena" was featured in Kill Bill Volume 2 and Inglourious Basterds. Overall, this is an unforgettable spaghetti western that should not be missed by fans of the genre, and even though it's not as good as Django and The Great Silence by Corbucci, Il Mercenario still remains one of the most entertaining and flat out cool westerns I've seen.

Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2(2010)

It was inevitable that a sequel would be made to the original, refreshing superhero movie, and it's no where near the same level of quality as the first, but is by no means a bad movie. This time around, a Russian man named Ivan Vanko, seeks vengeance on Tony Stark for his father's death, and builds his own powerful weapon from stolen blueprints, going on a quest to defeat Tony. Thankfully, Robert Downey Jr. still delivers a charismatic performance as Tony Stark, as well as the supporting cast, but the plot movies along a lot slower and is a lot less engaging than the first movie. It still retains lots of the things that made the original such an innovative movie, just in smaller and less satisfying bursts. The action is on par with the first, albeit there being less, and the finale with the villain is quite short but really makes up for lots of the flaws throughout the movie. The villains- since there are actually two, which are Mickey Rourke as Whiplash and Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer- are actually performed quite well. They aren't quite as strong as Jeff Bridge's character from the first, but are interesting enough to make sure that Tony Stark actually has a reason to suit up again. Some of the writing in this movie isn't very good, and many of the introduced characters aren't very fleshed out so I was a little annoyed whenever they were focused on because I didn't really find them very captivating. It also felt like it dragged on- I felt like the pacing was bad and many scenes and situations were a lot longer than they should've been, making me feel a little exhausted at times. It constantly felt very rushed and effortless, but at other times, the film works great and takes some good turns. Overall, this was a fun and entertaining movie, and albeit not being anywhere near the innovative and smart level of the original, and feeling very rushed, it was still a semi-satisfying superhero movie that continued to build on the Iron Man franchise.

The Untouchables

The Untouchables is a powerful, entertaining classic cops vs criminals drama. Kevin Costner, who plays as an officer named Eliot Ness, brings together a small group of agents to take down the gangster Al Capone in the Prohibition-era Chicago. Sure, it's historically inaccurate, and it's an exaggerated retelling of the events that actually happened, but all is forgiven thanks to its great performances from everyone (Particularly Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, and Robert De Niro), its stylized but entertaining action sequences, and Ennio Morricone's brilliant score. I was glued to the screen for nearly every moment of the movie, and the way the suspense was handled was great, and never kept me anywhere less than engaged to the story.

The acting from everyone is great too, and Kevin Costner does his role well, Sean Connery gives a strong, likable performance, and De Niro plays Al Capone pretty much flawlessly, with multiple breathtaking scenes. The amount of action is not little nor excessive, and perfectly fits into the plot without disrupting anything or making it feel over the top. Ennio's score really adds to the film because it gives the film a great 1930s feel to it, and sets the mood and intensity of scenes that wouldn't be anywhere as good without it. It has enough substance so it's not completely devoid of intellect, and the characters are developed enough to the point where you at least care about the characters. It has many memorable scenes, especially one regarding a staircase (which I won't spoil).

It doesn't boast incredible depth or anything extraordinary, so don't expect something like The Godfather, but has a satisfying and entertaining enough plot along with a great cast that helps make what could've been a somewhat sprawling drama, into a very good, classic cops vs Al Capone thriller from the amazing Brian DePalma, with its great (if inaccurate) look at the Prohibition-era.


One of the great spaghetti westerns and my second favorite Sergio Corbucci movie. It doesn't quite have the strong direction of other westerns such as Sergio Leone movies, but it still has a very tense, dark atmosphere and a completely aggressive, awesome protagonist (named Django) that is relatable (not quite on the same level, though) to the Man With No Name. The plot itself is too interesting to pass, and it really delivers- a stranger dragging a coffin is caught up between two different "gangs", which are Mexican revolutionaries and General Jackson's men. The plot is pretty similar to A Fistful of Dollars, where Clint Eastwood is in the middle of two rivaling gangs, and that plot was taken from Yojimbo. The action is quite brutal at times, even for a moderately low budget movie, but there was no point where I was bored because of the intriguing plot and the awesome performance by Franco Nero.

Corbucci's direction is very fitting for the gritty, vicious atmosphere, which almost perfectly represents the brutality of its setting. This movie has some very memorable scenes, particularly Django revealing what's in his coffin, and the final fight. Unfortunately, some parts of the movie did not quite age well, and are quite campy, and some of the dialogue is pretty bad. However, it seems to have a great influence on westerns because it supposedly led to the creation of countless unofficial sequels (only one official sequel), and also greatly inspired Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained). It is an absolutely awesome classic spaghetti western that despite its minor but glaring flaws, has not only created a huge influence for both older and modern directors, but is an entertaining, great movie.

High Plains Drifter

High Plains Drifter is a strange, smart western directed and starring Clint Eastwood, who once again plays the role of a mysterious stranger. This movie is about a stranger, played by Clint Eastwood, who rides into the town of Lago and impresses the citizens with his skills as a gunslinger, and the citizens beg him to protect the town from a trio of outlaws. It's difficult to dig further into the plot without spoiling something.

The very beginning of this movie opens up with a sort of heat wave and a desert haze, and right from the start you can tell that this will be a visionary western. The first fifteen minutes of this movie are gold, and just watching Clint Eastwood ride into the town of Lago builds up tension, with an eerie score, a great setting, and background noises that perfectly fit in. The rest of the movie is similar, but it gets stranger and spookier by the minute. It's also mind-blowing, with a thought-provoking ending that completely changed the perspective of the film.

My main problem with this movie was the fact that there was no character you could really root for, even Eastwood himself, who has his moments of pure awesome but is still more of an anti-hero with some evil characteristics. There are also some scenes that were unnecessary and that I still see no purpose for, particularly one scene where Eastwood rapes a woman, which I felt was uncalled for.

However, the fact that this is such a unique and different take on the western genre makes this a film that I admire and respect. Eastwood absorbs the role as a stranger once again, and his role is comparable (if not as good) to the Man With No Name. Its mysterious atmosphere completely changes the look and feel of this movie, as well as an eerie score, great cinematography, and a great supporting cast. Some scenes even feel surreal and dreamlike, and supernatural elements were scattered around the movie, which made it far more interesting. Some rough flaws aside, this is an overall memorable, dark, and clever western that is so distinguishable, smart, and respectable that it can't be passed.

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness is J.J. Abrams' follow up to his 2009 Star Trek film, and does so in a slightly better way. This time around, the Enterprise is threatened by a terrorist known as John Harrison, played by Benedit Cumberbatch. However, as the film progresses, the plot gets a lot more complex, but is hard to say without spoiling any plot details.

First off, I'm not very well-versed in the Star Trek franchise, but I'm sure there's plenty of homages, plot elements, and details that would probably satisfy a Star Trek fan. There's plenty of attention put to each character and they're all acted well, making sure that no character is forgotten. The Enterprise crew reprise their roles from the first film, such as Zachary Quinto as Spock. I love how he upholds his personality even in the most dire of situations, making the movie a lot more entertaining. His relationship with Kirk is strong in this movie, just as it was in the 2009 Star Trek. Simon Pegg as Scotty also adds some nice humor, but there are laughs provided by some of the other members as well. However, I think the best performance here is Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC's Sherlock series) who nails the role as a villain, with an intriguing, menacing personality that completely steals the show. He's one of the better villains in the past few blockbusters, with a frighteningly cold voice. I think he deserved more screen time, but the time he had on screen was incredible.

The special effects are visually stunning, with thrilling and non-stop action and a brisk, clean pace throughout the movie. After the admittedly okay opening scene, which cut straight to action, I think the movie got a lot better once the title showed up. I also thought some of the action throughout the movie was a little overdone and chaotic, but that's just me, and it didn't take away from the film a whole lot.

The way J.J. Abrams handled this movie was so well done, and it makes me very excited for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII directed by him. If this was what he could do for Star Trek, I can only imagine what he can do for Star Wars. Star Trek Into Darkness is one of the more entertaining movies I've seen in a while, and I felt very relaxed watching it. I can't wait to see what else this director is capable of doing, with great attention to each character (and an awesome performance by Benedict Cumberbatch), highly entertaining, visually stunning action, and non-stop intense, intelligent thrills.

Team America: World Police

It's no masterpiece, but Team America: World Police is an incredibly hilarious, outrageous, and clever satire with marionettes and crude, possibly offensive humor alongside absurdly sharp humor that frequently delivers huge laughs. It's the rated R version of the 1960's children's show called the Thunderbirds. It's one of those films that offends everybody who watches it- which does make it somewhat controversial, but is also a positive trait about the movie (it's hard to explain without watching it for yourself). It has incredibly funny and memorable quotes around every corner, and although there is quite a lot of profanity and vulgar humor, it is balanced with over the top humor that pokes fun at big budget action movies. It makes fun of all the cliches and dumb plot elements of conventional action movies. Even when I wasn't laughing, I was at least smiling or chuckling. I was very impressed by the gorgeous sets and the puppets, which all look excellent and very well made, but you can easily tell that they weren't going for a serious movie considering the puppets are marionettes, and just knowing that they're puppets made me laugh. I admire how Matt Stone and Trey Parker aren't trying to make some transcendent comedy, but instead just aim for making everyone laugh out loud. They have no restrictions, making things frequently shocking and disturbing, while simultaneously making things hilarious. Considering Matt Stone and Trey Parker are the minds behind South Park, it wasn't hard to recognize their style of humor and cleverness. There's an abundance of scenes that I constantly revisit since they put me in a better mood. I also love the whole satire concept of this movie- it's funny because lots of it is actually somewhat true (not exactly, but it's an exaggerated depiction of America's decisions in politics and war). It's not a very subtle satire about America (it doesn't really need to be), and it may not be a film for everyone due to its controversial and crude humor, but if you're into this kind of stuff, you're going to have a blast with its non-stop laughs.

The Great Silence

The Great Silence is Sergio Corbucci's masterpiece and one of the best westerns ever created, and rather than following the traditional western formula of a desert setting, Corbucci uses a bleak, dark snow environment that is very different from any western ever made. This movie focuses on a man named Silence who is trying to get revenge on sadistic bounty hunters led by a man named Loco to help aid a woman who's husband was killed by them. It's a haunting, realistic portrayal of the bounty hunters during its era, and it doesn't try to hide any of the brutality of its chilling setting. It's powered by great performances all around, especially from Jean-Louis Trintignant as a mute man named Silence, and Klaus Kinski as the ruthless bounty hunter named Loco, as well as one of the best Ennio Morricone scores, beautiful cinematography of its frozen setting, and one of the darkest, haunting endings I've ever seen in a movie that left me completely speechless. It's an extremely brilliant, powerful, and very depressing ending that sticks in your mind for a long time. This is like no other movie- it's unique and unconventional, and takes full advantage of its desolate, brutal snow-filled setting. I wouldn't really say there are any real "heroes" in this movie, but Klaus Kinski as Loco is definitely the most twisted person here, and frequently steals the show. I love the themes portrayed in this movie, such as its realistic take on the idea of capitalism, as well as showing what bounty hunters are really like. It criticizes the western society with great complexity, and it shows the impossibility of revolutions, as well as some symbolism to top it off. There's much to love about this spaghetti western, and it remains a high point of westerns in general. It's truly a film that must be seen to be believed, and intelligently and perfectly portrays its bleak atmosphere in the most unconventional and unforgettable way possible.


Godzilla, the 1998 version, is an Americanized retelling of the Japanese mutant, that is mindless, dumb fun and a pretty average action flick from the 90s. There seemed to be an over abundance of these types of films. It's one of those movies that you love as a kid, but when you look back at it, you realize how stupid it was. As a kid, you would probably dismiss the flaws that this film is heavy with (let alone not even notice them) because they fall in love with the craziness that is resulted from a huge, mutant lizard that is terrorizing a city. However, when you grow up, you wonder about what you were thinking as a kid when you were watching this, because of how unintentionally silly it is. There's bad acting, an abysmal script, and tons of ridiculous, laughably stupid moments. That being said, this is cheesy, pointless fun with flashy, decent special effects that do serve as a somewhat guilty pleasure. It's not a particularly memorable film either, with tons of chaotic, generic action sequences that may or may not give you a headache. It feels way overlong, and the acting ranges from being overacted to underacted, like Matthew Broderick's role as Dr. Niko.

The characters feel very boring, shallow, and obnoxious, and we've seen them all hundreds of times before. The story is predictable and lazy, albeit some minor thrills at parts and some creative ways that the characters escape from the situations that they're in. Once Godzilla's eggs hatch and her babies attack Dr. Niko's crew, the film does become a tad more entertaining, but not enough to really care about what's going on. There's nothing very surprising about this movie, and is pretty much a bland, long, continuous special effect that gets boring and stale after a while, and does serve a small dose of entertainment and fun, but ultimately feels like an effortless, dumb, pointless action flick. I wouldn't be surprised if someone has a soft spot for this film because many people may have nostalgia from watching this as a child, but I couldn't help but to feel annoyed by its obnoxious, annoying, and stale quality on almost every level.

District 9
District 9(2009)

One of the most incredible, profoundly beautiful and entertaining movies I've ever seen, combing heartbreaking, honest emotion, entertaining sci-fi action, and an original, brilliant plot. This is not a movie to miss, and provides everything a sci-fi movie should, along with deep messages. A portion of this movie is filmed in a "documentary" style, but rather than just being used as a plot device or a cheap way to keep the story going, it makes the events feel more authentic and real. Seeing the protagonist slowly deteriorate throughout the movie deeply moved me, and I couldn't help but feel for him. Also, the brutality and struggles of the aliens by the humans sickened me in a way. It also has a terrific ending that really just made my jaw drop in powerful emotion. There are some great performances in this movie, particularly Wikus van der Merwe played by Sharlto Copley, who gives a very believable, and sometimes funny, performance as the protagonist. Absolutely unforgettable, depressing, entertaining, and overall brilliant, this is definitely a must see movie and remains one of my favorite sci-fi movies, if not one of my favorite movies of all time.

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio is an overall tripe, mediocre movie with moments of brilliance and great performances by its leads, Julliane Moore and Woody Harrelson. This movie takes place during the 1950s and is about a housewife named Evelyn Ryan trying to hold her family of ten children and a husband together by winning entries in contests. First off, Julianne Moore as Evelyn Ryan, the mother who's support her family, is fantastic, as well as Woody Harrelson as Kelly Ryan, the husband. They really elevate this movie from an utter waste of time. I also really liked the setting of this movie, and they portrayed it well as to how it affected their family's struggles.

Now, the mediocre part of this movie- it really offers nothing new at all and is very forgettable, and feels dull and bland. It lacks real drama and emotion, despite the fact that some parts of the movie were fairly powerful. It's a schmaltzy, formulaic movie with a very predictable ending. It's an interesting story, but hits too many sentimental and repetitive bumps along the way, and progressively gets worse until the ending. The ending is where the movie almost dismantles completely because it just felt terribly structured and was way too foreseeable. I could see why people would like this movie- however, it failed to resonate with me. I realize that the story in this movie is actually a true one, which is great for Evelyn Ryan and her family, but I don't think that it conveyed enough power to make me really care about the struggles that the Evelyn Ryan in this movie was facing. It's not any of the actors fault- rather, its the scripts fault. As I said, this movie does have its moments of great emotion, such as a few scenes involving Kelly and Evelyn. However, the mediocre outweighs the good here, which is unfortunate because this movie had lots of potential. Overall, its not terrible by any means, but it failed to resonate with me, and wasn't a very memorable film either. I would give this movie a try, still, because perhaps you can find some emotion in what I thought was a movie that lacked enough substance.


Entertaining and watchable, this X-Men adaptation is decent but also uneven and flawed. It starts off pretty intriguing and interesting, but slowly, it goes downhill until it becomes a bit of a mess. It has some great performances, especially from Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellen, who went on to create iconic portrayals of their characters, but the problem that I felt the cast had was the substance they had to work with. The story, as I stated, starts off captivating (with a great premise- I found the whole mutants concept pretty cool) but tumbles downhill into a mildly entertaining, pretty flimsy movie. Unfortunately, that made it feel pretty bland for portions of the film. Another thing, however, that redeems this movie a little more are the good action sequences, which I found to be impressive. Some of the most memorable scenes from this movie for me were probably the opening scene with Magneto being separated from his parents from a concentration camp, and the scene where Wolverine goes to the bar and meets Rogue. Overall, this is by no means a bad movie, but I thought it was a little cheesy and rushed, despite having somewhat good intentions as a comic book movie.

For a Few Dollars More (Per Qualche Dollaro in Più)

Sergio Leone once again changes the western genre with For A Few Dollars More, the second movie in the Man With No Name trilogy. I really couldn't ask for more, since it had more Eastwood, had a chilling soundtrack by Morricone, a great direction from Leone, and an awesome performance by Lee Van Cleef. The chemistry between Eastwood and Cleef made this movie alone, but of course, there's so much more to this movie than that. Once again, there's an interesting story, and this time, it's about two bountry hunters (Eastwood and Cleef) teaming up to take down the leader of an outlaw gang, also known as Indio. All of this leads up to one of the most haunting, chilling finales I've ever seen, and an overall classic western that yet again redefined the western genre. To me, I think the trilogy progressively gets better by each movie, and that shows Leone's improvement as a director. I honestly think Leone is practically an artist with his masterful use of blending the different western elements and showing it through a different lens, and that makes this a must-see western movie. This is my 2nd favorite western movie (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly being not only my favorite western, but my favorite movie of all time).

Gangster Squad

I actually enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would. It has some great performances like Sean Penn's Mickey Cohen (although some said he was over the top, I thought it was great). This was very entertaining from start to finish, but some of the action felt redundant and I feel like at parts it was almost excessive. It also glorified in production value and visuals over the actual substance, but I didn't really mind all too much because it delivered an interesting enough story (albeit predictable) for the amount of action in it. Another problem I felt was that at times, the movie felt epic and involving, while at other times, the movie was pretty ridiculous, and almost cliched and stereotypical (mainly the first hour). It almost felt like a comic book movie at certain points. Despite these problems, I think this is a fairly underrated movie, and it's nothing special, but it delivers enough entertainment, good performances, stylized visuals, and an interesting story, resulting in a good, not great, gangster film. If you're looking for a highly stylized, entertaining, action movie, I'd recommend this.

Iron Man
Iron Man(2008)

A near-flawless superhero movie that perfectly balances humor, action, and emotion by its terrific acting and its well crafted plot. This is a must see action movie, with a memorable and smart villain, accompanied by an absolutely awesome performance by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. The persona of Tony Stark makes this film among the greatest superhero movies alone, but of course leaves appropriate room for its plot. The plot, which is about a billionaire named Tony Stark being kidnapped and is forced to build a weapon for terrorism but uses his cleverness to create a suit of armor with the supplies he has, is very entertaining and captivating, and drew me in right from the start and left me constantly wondering where the plot would go from there. It's a very unique movie that is not only excellently crafted in terms of plot, but has tons of great, hilarious dialogue and action that blows you away. It has tons of comedic relief, but it doesn't make the film feel silly, and it doesn't feel unnecessary because it elevates this movie a lot. The action is filled with visually stunning and impressive battles that left me in awe. It began a new, refreshing wave of Marvel superhero movies that would eventually lead to The Avengers, and as great as it was seeing all of the superheros that we were introduced to throughout the build up work together, Iron Man is almost single-handedly at equal quality. Tony Stark is definitely the most egotistical and clever superhero ever, and you see him change from a self-centered billionaire to the completely awesome Iron Man that uses his ingenuity to stop terrorism. This is by far one of the most entertaining movies I've ever seen, and my eyes were completely glued to the screen for every second. There wasn't any one part where I was bored, and this is a must see for practically anyone, comic book fan or not, action fan or not.

The Terminator

One of the greatest and most influential action films ever made, The Terminator is a brilliant, bleak sci-fi adventure, and is backed up by a simple, yet terrifyingly effective role by Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, and impressive visual effects and action sequences that continue to impress just as much as it did nearly 30 years ago when it was first released. This film is about a man from the future, named Kyle Reese, who is sent back in time from the bleak post-apocalyptic future of 2029 to 1984 to protect a woman named Sarah Connor, who is the mother of the future leader of a human resistance group, from being terminated by a cyborg named The Terminator. The pacing of this film is so fast and well executed that it's hard to catch any mistakes or flaws throughout the film (if there are any at all), and there is barely any moment where my heart wasn't pounding thanks to its non-stop thrills. The atmosphere is gloomy and chilling, and has a feeling of threat and suspicion. The action is great, with groundbreaking visual effects for its time, leading to a huge amount of intense suspense and fear of the fact that the lives of these two main characters are constantly threatened by an indestructible cyborg that is ravaging the city in search for them. The soundtrack is also great, and has a very epic feeling that perfectly fits in with its setting and atmosphere. Arnold, who gives what is probably his most iconic role, does a very good job at portraying a seemingly simple but very chilling villain that doesn't care how he completes his goal, but if he completes it at all. Everything works so well, and is a great example of what is sorely missing from most big-budget action blockbusters. This is a classic, imaginative, and mesmerizing movie with that works perfectly on every level, showcasing some of the best action and thrills ever put to screen.

Navajo Joe
Navajo Joe(1965)

A very fast-paced, entertaining western revenge movie yet again from Sergio Corbucci, which although may be very ridiculous and over-the-top, is still a movie that should be far more well known, and has a good lead role from Burt Reynolds as Navajo Joe, an unforgettable score from Ennio Morricone, and once again, good direction from Sergio Corbucci. This movie tells the story of Navajo Joe, a man who managed to escape from outlaws that murdered his tribe, and seeks revenge on them. As I stated, it's pretty entertaining but in the over-the-top way, which could both serve as a negative and a positive because at times you're a bit perplexed as to Joe could survive a shootout with a bunch of armed outlaws, but it also represents him as a bodacious tornado that takes down superior forces without mercy (and you'll probably forgive the fact that it makes no sense because of how entertaining it is). It also has a memorable score (as always) from Ennio Morricone that perfectly fits with the movie. Overall, it's an over-the-top, nonsensical, and flawed but entertaining movie that is a forgotten gem of the western genre, and should be far more well known than it currently is.

The Fall
The Fall(2006)

One of the most breathtakingly beautiful movies I've ever seen, and it could've been a masterpiece had the script been a little better. This is about two hospitalized patients- a young Romanian girl and a paralyzed stuntman-, befriending each other, creating a vivid imagination and merging reality and fantasy. The story and the performances were engaging, and the two main characters (Lee Pace and Cantinca Untaru) have a very strong, moving relationship with each other that really drives this movie along, as well as the fantasy story that the two create. Cantinca, who plays the young girl known as Alexandria, is quite impressive and talented for her age, as well as Lee Pace. It is a symbolically complex narrative mixed with surreal visuals and emotion that creates an absolutely stunning, beautiful film. The way reality and fantasy are balanced is well executed, but it does feel quite sloppy at times, and has some very questionable moments regarding the dialogue, story elements, etc. This movie is worth watching just for the cinematography, the visuals, the costumes- the appearance in general, but there's a chance that you can appreciate the story as well, that will certainly appeal to some just as it leaves others dissatisfied. It's colorful and oddly crafted, with some very strange and surreal moments, and is an underrated, profound film that has some very questionable decisions, but is an overall satisfying, breathtaking movie that achieves an epic eminence that sticks in your mind for a very long time.

The Adventures of Tintin

The Tintin comics and cartoon series was my childhood- I loved it to death and I re-read each story countless times. It was no surprise that this was one of my most anticipated movies ever, and I was glad that my childhood was brought to life by Steven Spielberg himself. The movie is visually stunning, with impressive motion capture and action sequences, has an engrossing and very entertaining story, and some great writing (with great humor every once in a while) that really reminded me of the old Indiana Jones movies. I'm guessing that those movies were used as a sort of template for this one, which didn't bother me for the most part. However, some things did feel very familiar to the Indiana Jones movies, which did irritate me a little. It also felt a little chaotic at parts because so much was happening in such little time. That leads me to my next point, as this movie has sharp pacing that makes this movie fly by. It's an hour and forty minutes of a thrilling, exciting blockbuster. Although the story does seem to go on a slightly different path from the comics, I didn't mind because the "new" story that was used was satisfying enough. This is certainly a movie that you don't have to be familiar with the source material to enjoy. It made me feel like a child again, thanks to the sense of old-fashioned adventure, John William's score, and getting to see the lovable characters that I grew up with on the big screen. Watching this movie growing up with the source material was like being a child and opening a present, and even if you're not familiar with the source material, it's certain that you'll probably find something to enjoy from this movie. If you're a fan of adventure movies in general, this is not a movie to miss. I can't wait to see Spielberg come back together with his brilliant cast to make another one of these movies, bringing Tintin to a new generation.

Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3(2013)

An improvement over the second Iron Man movie, but still a very flawed yet entertaining movie. Iron Man 3 is the beginning of the "second phase" of Marvel movies, and pulls off an impressive, fun ride that suffers from some very big problems but, in a way, makes up for them with its well executed action, dialogue, performances, and atmosphere. In this third part of the Iron Man franchise, Tony Stark, who has been suffering from anxiety issues ever since the events of the Avengers movie in New York, is threatened by a terrorist by the name of The Mandarin. The plot in this movie is the main reason this movie suffers. There are some very unexpected turns in the story line (not exactly in a good way, either) that really took me out of the film. There was a lot of wasted potential for certain plot points, and it could've been something spectacular had they not taken a few of the routes they had taken. I do sort of respect the risks that Shane Black, the director, took, but some of those risks did hurt my enjoyment of the film. Some parts of this film also felt very rushed and unnecessary. But for the most part, it's a captivating journey through the eyes of Tony Stark and his quest to overcome his problems, and has some visually stunning, very impressive action that comes in huge bursts of entertainment. The visual effects are incredible to look at and really make the action scenes epic and astounding. However, I did feel that the action in this movie was a little excessive and chaotic, but for the majority of the film, I wasn't bothered. If you were annoyed by the lack of action in Iron Man 2, this will more than make up for it. The dialogue is also great, with Robert Downey Jr., once again as Tony Stark, delivering a phenomenal performance that sharply and quickly slaps hilarious and witty dialogue around. Iron Man 3 does fall short of the high standard set by The Avengers, and was a mild disappointment, but is an undeniably impressive action movie that continues the Iron Man franchise in a strong manner. Comic book fans will most likely be annoyed by the decisions made by Shane Black, but even as someone who isn't very involved with the Iron Man comics, I was a little bothered. Still, it has very entertaining visual effects and acting that elevate this movie far higher than the slight mess it feels like it is, and keeps me excited to see what else Marvel has to offer for its upcoming superhero movies.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

An absolutely insane and horrifyingly intense horror movie that remains one of the most iconic horror movies ever made. Although it does follow a familiar concept and sort of runs along horror cliches (most likely wasn't familiar/cliched at all back in 1974), this movie is a lot more effective than most horror movies because of its well-acted characters and its overall shocking, terrifying atmosphere that really sticks in your mind for a long time. It's almost like a nightmare, and the last fifteen minutes or so are probably some of the craziest/weirdest climaxes I've seen in a movie in a while. Before watching this, I guess I underestimated the effectiveness of this film due to the countless additions to the franchise that are unfortunately affiliated with this classic. However, this is an hour and a half of pure terror and a disturbing, riveting "chainsaw massacre" that almost carves into your mind and refuses to leave. Even with characters that you don't particularly care for/know about, you will still have an insanely scary ride that introduces you to one of the most iconic horror characters ever made, Leatherface.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

My opinion on the film seems to differ than most, but I thought the first hour in the Shire was perfectly paced and was funny and entertaining while staying faithful to the book, but after that, it slowly got worse and worse to the point where I felt pretty bored. I agree, it was a visual feast and it was beautiful to look at, the dialogue was still great, and the action was still good, but it felt overlong. Considering its going to be a trilogy with a run time of ~3 hours per film, and its based on a book that's so small, worries me. Even with the additions of other J.R.R Tolkien books, I feel like it won't work out. For the original LOTR films it actually made sense considering the length of the books was huge and it was epic in scope, but the Hobbit felt pretty disappointing and drawn out. They could have cut lots of unnecessary scenes out and it would have been up there with Fellowship of the Ring, which was the first installment to the LOTR trilogy. (24 FPS review)

Cannibal Holocaust

This movie is one of the most disturbing, sickening, cruel works of art I have ever seen. It has beautiful music playing over atrocious, thought-provoking images. It's a real challenge to watch, I can't even believe this movie was ever made.

No Country for Old Men

A film that's definitely not for everyone, and requires patience and strong attention to be able to fully understand the intentions of the movie. It will appear as a slow moving, boring, pointless film to some, and to others, it will appear as one of the greatest thrillers of all time. This movie has haunting, beautiful poetry in it and has a very chilling, depressing atmosphere. Multiple viewings may be required to understand the true intentions of the film and its realistic take on a "cat and mouse" idea. It is powered by outstanding performances from Javier Bardem (Anton Chigurh), Josh Brolin (Llewelyn Moss), and Tommy Lee Jones (Sherrif Ed).

A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari)

A great start to a great trilogy, Clint Eastwood begins his iconic "The Man With No Name" character superbly. Very clever and entertaining, well paced, and stylish, this film redefined the western genre and created an iconic character that would change film making forever. You just can't get any cooler than Clint Eastwood, and he does what he does best here.

The Dark Knight Rises

A satisfying conclusion to, in my opinion, one of the greatest trilogies of all time. Intelligent dialogue, suspense, powerful acting, spectacular visuals, and thrill- this movie will keep you on the edge of your seat.

El Norte
El Norte(1984)

An extremely heart wrenching, realistic portrayal of the struggles that illegal immigrants must go through in the United States. Powerful social commentary and honest emotion makes this a film that's not easy to forget, and it's very hard to not be changed walking out of this film. Beautiful, tragic, and poetic, this is a film that makes you think about the harsh realities that their lives must face.


Well-animated, but that's just about as far as Bolt goes. It's kid friendly and harmless, but it still lacks emotion and I feel like I've seen the same characters, plot, and humor far too many times before. It's not very memorable, either, and is an overall noisy film with boring, stale humor, one-dimensional characters, and a story that is far to familiar. The ending felt pretty weak as well. I found this to be a forgettable, albeit mildly entertaining at parts, film that will surely please lots of people, but for me, it just didn't do much. It's pretty much just a safe, happy, lightweight film filled with cliches but serves as a family film that could either be charming for some, or mediocre for others.

The Breakfast Club

A hilarious and touching reflection on the lives of teenagers in high school, that not only has some very funny moments and likable characters, but also some very heartfelt, powerful moments that makes this such an iconic, memorable movie. The themes in this movie show the true light of society's pressure, isolation, adolescence growth, and stereotypes in an incredible, unforgettable way. The plot is simple, with five teenagers with abstract personalities (a "princess", a "jock", a "criminal", a "brain", and a "basket case") that are stuck in Saturday detention and are complete strangers to each other. Overtime, however, they realize how they are more common than they actually think through some hilarious dialogue and potent moments that reflect on their personalities and personal lives. It's hard not to relate to at least one of these characters in some way, which adds to the impact of this film. I love the fact that to this day, its point that it's trying to convey is still relevant and has not aged at all, and the fact that John Hughes was pretty much the first director to bring up the topic of adolescent problems. I tend to not like "coming of age" movies because I feel that their message is usually forced and are overly sentimental, but I think that The Breakfast Club hits all the right notes with its well-acted, relatable characters, its heartfelt and funny script, its memorable music and situations, and its overall vibe that resulted in one of the most classic, influential films that impacted a whole generation of people.

God Bless America

God Bless America is a brilliant, if too preachy and uneven, satire of everything that's wrong with America's awful culture. This movie is about a man named Frank who feels like he has nothing to live for, and is fed up with America's culture regarding celebrities in the media, politics, etc., as well as all the arrogant people that lack common sense, and decides to go on a killing spree. Later, however, he meets a high-school girl named Roxy who has similar motives, and they pair up and go on a "Bonnie and Clyde" massacre on the people that they believe deserve to die. What really stuck me while watching this is how much I could relate to the main character named Frank's reaction to our modern culture. This is thought-provoking stuff, even if it's a far too exaggerated depiction of what the media and our society is today. The situations that the characters view that motivate them to go on a killing spree on all the people they hate were unrealistic, but whenever their intolerant, stupid victims did die, I oddly felt very satisfied.

That's most likely because this is a dark comedy that is unusually entertaining, with moments of brilliance and hilarity by some of the dialogue between Frank and Roxy, and the situations they're in. I had lots of fun with this movie, and was brutal in a satisfying way. I loved the characters' motives, even if the situations depicted that led them to it were somewhat unrealistic. Of course, many people who watch this film that are related to the people that the main characters hate will most likely be offended. It's also a little too preachy, and loses its steam a little towards the middle. However, Frank and Roxy are acted very well, so it helped keep the story interesting, especially by a cast that I've never really heard of before. I hope to see Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr in future movies, mainly because they were smart enough to play unique roles, rather than generic, stereotypical roles.

I wish more movies were like this- showing the flaws of our society, although I did find that the movie was a little hypocritical at times when it came to killing people that "aren't nice". Even if I did feel like this movie did not live up to its full potential, I still think that this is a powerful, brave, and entertaining work that is completely honest with its intentions, and although is far too exaggerated to be an accurate depiction of our society, should be more recognized for the amount of bravery put in this dark comedy. It sums up everything that disgusts me about what humanity has turned into- intolerant, arrogant people who mindlessly follow our irrational culture and contribute to our dying society, and I'm glad that I'm not the only person that feels this way.

Wreck-it Ralph

The Toy Story trilogy brought up the concept of what toys do when we're not playing with them. Wreck-it Ralph, similarly, brings up the concept of what video game characters do when we're not playing with them. Wreck-it Ralph brought the same amount of nostalgia that Toy Story 3 did, reminding me with childhood memories of retro games, and does so with a vibrant, colorful, and imaginative world. It's about a video game character named Wreck-it Ralph who's tired of being the "bad guy" since he's treated like he's worthless, and is sick of seeing the "good guy", named Fix-it Felix, getting all the fame and honor. He tries to resolve this problem by game jumping to earn a medal to prove that he really is worthy of honor from a game known as "Hero's Duty", but makes a mistake and ends up in another game called "Sugar Rush". Along the way, Ralph meets a girl named Vanellope von Schweetz, who befriends him, as well as Sergeant Calhoun. There's a plethora of video game references that will definitely appeal to gamers, but the movie as a whole will also appeal to someone who isn't all too fond with games. You don't need to be a fan of video games to enjoy this movie. The voice work is great, the animation is visually stunning and great to look at, and it's full of humor (although some jokes are hit and miss). It has plenty of heart to it, and its characters are well developed so you really care about the situations that they're in, and executes it in a highly creative way. However, where the movie falls flat, is the story. It's simple and familiar, and I feel like I've seen it far too many times in family movies. I wasn't asking for a "complex plot" or anything, but I felt like the last half hour should've been more fresh than it was. But the way it's executed is very well done, so if you can get past the fact that the story isn't the most original, than you'll surely love this movie. Personally, I also felt that the climax of this movie was a little too chaotic for my taste, where it did tumble a little into the world of mediocrity in animated family movies. That being said, this is a very good animated movie that isn't, in my opinion, among Disney's top animated movies, but is still a fun, fresh family movie in the recent wake of mediocre ones.

Dirty Harry
Dirty Harry(1971)

Dirty Harry is one of the best crime thrillers ever made, and hasn't aged a bit or lost its tension even after over forty years since its release. From the first few minutes, it's not hard to tell that this would be an instant classic. Clint Eastwood's performance here as Harry Callahan, an inspector, is just as cool as his the Man With No Name role in the Dollars trilogy, and Clint Eastwood is the epitome of cool. He's a reason to see this movie alone, but of course, there's tons of other stuff that make this such a great movie.

The story is about an inspector named Harry Callahan who's assigned to hunt down a psycho serial killer named Scorpio. Everything is so well handled, and takes a simple idea and expands on it with an incredible amount of tension, as well as great acting, especially by Clint Eastwood who made himself and his role an icon, and by Andy Robinson as Scorpio who completely nails the role as a madman serial killer. Don Siegel offers a dark and brutal view of crime in San Francisco, with an intimidating and frightening Scorpio. It's tightly paced with tons of memorable scenes and lines, and even some fairly messed up stuff as well.

It was even considered controversial due to its "fascist" message that many viewers interpreted the movie to convey. I can see why some people wouldn't appreciate this film because of the message, which in a way defies the law and builds on the fact about how Harry takes matters into his own hands. I, however, was not bothered by its message. The magnum speech by Harry is awesome and never gets old, and the influence this movie had on the thriller genre of movies was huge, spawning not only four more movies in the "Dirty Harry" series, but modern thrillers can be traced back to this movie. It's a classic in every way, and not only remains one of the defining films of the 70s, but its influence is clear in modern day movies as well.

Back to the Future

An extremely entertaining, humorous, and charming time travel story. This is a cinematic landmark and contains some of the most unforgettable scenes in the history of movies.


A very well-made, powerful movie that realistically portrays what would happen during the progress of a virus outbreak. It delivers some of the emotions and fears produced during events like this. It effectively makes you feel paranoid and scared upon completion. However, the characters lack a lot of necessary depth and at times, it felt like a very slow documentary, but apart from that, this movie is very thrilling and is a refreshingly intelligent "horror" movie.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

A boring, irritating cash grab that challenges your sanity for 1 1/2 hours. An atrocity to film making, its among the worst films I've had to suffer through. The fact that this made well over $400m at the box office makes me question how much more greedy Hollywood can be. The abysmal "humor" throughout the whole movie gets stale immediately and it's filled with writing that was quite possibly made by a 5 year old. A complete waste of your time, don't go near this abomination.


Has to be my favorite James Bond film, and one of my favorites of the year. This is a gripping, astonishing thriller that has some of the best action I've ever seen, an intimidating, oscar-worthy villain, and a dark and exciting plot line that will satisfy you.


This is a unique, interesting horror movie that treads along a different path than most of the horror genre. The acting isn't so great and the script could use some work, but this serves as an engrossing yet creepy psychological thriller. Some great, unpredictable twists make this a more gripping movie than your usual grisly "slasher" film. It's a shame that the endless sequels to this first installment made the franchise garbage. However, I'll have to admit that the first (and to me, the only) installment in the Saw franchise is an original, smart horror film.


Didn't Disney didn't learn anything from Cars?... Oh yeah, they don't care, it's for the money.


I'll admit that I'm not a fan of David Lynch's surreal art style in his movies, but this short is creepy, haunting, and nightmare inducing. It consists of three humanoid rabbits in a room with a very odd script, mysterious noises, and an insane laugh track that plays every once in a while. Mesmerizing in a way, I find this a lot easier to grasp than other works of Lynch, albeit being difficult to watch at times. It's dark, depressing, eerie, and bizarre, resulting in a very well crafted atmosphere. There's a certain "curiosity" added into it, which will either make people absorbed into it, or confused and scratching their heads, which I feel is completely understandable, and I feel the same way for his other movies like "Eraserhead". However, it's so mysterious and suspenseful to the point where you repeatedly ask questions, but part of what makes this experience so great is answering them and figuring out what Lynch is portraying through his hellish and somewhat depressing "Rabbits" short.

Wheels on Meals (Kuai can che) (Powerman) (Weapon X)

A cool and entertaining martial-arts comedy with the genius collaborations of Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. The story is very basic but it has some nice humor and one of the best fight scenes on screen (Jackie Chan vs Benny Urquidez, and Biao Yuen + Sammo versus some thugs). It's an old school, classic film with some ridiculously impressive stunts and action that skillfully blends the talents of the three into a jaw-dropping flick.

The Illusionist

It may be a little harsh to compare this to (in my opinion) the far superior The Prestige, but they were both released during the same year just 2 months away from each other. I watched The Prestige before The Illusionist so I was a little disappointed by The Illusionists' lack of fleshed out characters, and I wasn't all too engrossed in the story. However, the climax, the performances, and the cinematography were all great, and I most likely would've been a tad more impressed with the movie had I not seen The Prestige before hand.


This was a really disappointing and forgettable movie compared to Pixar's genius streak of movies. It's not that this was a bad movie, and this was a huge improvement from Cars 2, but I felt like it was a bit tedious to watch at times. I feel like they're putting animation ahead of plot now, but either way, this still maintains some of the charm and heart that older Pixar movies have. It's entertaining, and is worth watching once.

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy(2010)

Tron Legacy wasn't everything that I expected, but it didn't exactly disappoint, either. It had masterful visuals and my favorite movie score ever (which was from Daft Punk), but the plot does lack some depth. However, this is a widely entertaining addition to the original TRON movie and has a very intriguing premise. I think the main problem here is the script and its semi-weak execution of the plot, as the visuals can only strengthen the plot for so long. This reboot is still more than welcome, and is an unforgettable sci-fi film that is definitely worth a watch.

Inglourious Basterds

A movie that's capable of being original, funny, suspenseful, and very entertaining all at the same time, and absorbs you into its world with its incredible dialogue and great acting (Especially from Christoph Waltz). It finds the right balance of humor, style, and drama. The opening scene alone gives me chills, and it sets you up for a hugely thrilling, satisfying movie with scene-stealing performances, fitting humor, an awesome score, and over-the-top but astonishing violence. Tarantino continues his streak of great movies.


I really wanted to love this movie, but it's beautiful animation could only attract me for so long until I found that the jokes became a bit stale and I felt that its plot and characters' charm disappeared. The first half of the movie was great but it started to lose its "classic horror" feel and sort of devolved into a cliched animation. It only has the occasional joke and redeeming qualities to help this become an almost worth-watching movie, but I found it to be semi-disappointing after the groundbreaking Coraline.